Wow, my jet lag is waning, and I managed to actually sleep at night. Today, I wandered through a series of side events listening to message after message of loss, unmet commitment and at the same time a hope for a process unfolding that will save our planet's biodiversity, writes Keith Wheeler, Chair of IUCN's Commission on Education and Communication.
I am constantly reflecting on these messages, and asking myself how will they play to the rest of the world - 6 plus billion strong? Will they understand the myriad of acronyms, will they have the same passion for nature as the 8,000 strong here at the conference, what action do we want them to take? Still a bit confusing with each messenger here driving home their point of view, their research, the policy they want to have enacted...I continue to reflect: Will the same processes that we have built over the past thirty years to help us save nature, help us achieve the challenges that we face today and over the next decade?
The Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) has organized with the Convention on Biological Diversity the CEPA Fair (Communication, Education and Public Awareness) here in Nagoya. There is an ongoing series of presentations illustrating best practices in strategic communication, learning and education, and public engagement. This networking is serving as an inspiration and sharing platform for all interested in driving the change in human behavior that we all hope for - the change necessary to meet the next set of commitments in 2020. But how does this all fit seamlessly into a strategic plan for change? Are we engaged in CEPA for CEPA's sake or is it truly part of the change platform and seen as the key missing ingredient to meeting the goals that will come forth at the end of this meeting? Only time will tell.
The world is getting increasingly flat, and the way we communicate and shape the minds and hearts of our fellow earthlings is changing constantly. It used to be that we carefully craft press releases, massage news stories and disperse them through a series of top down channels. Here in Nagoya I am seeing people of all walks of life with hand-held video cameras and run-of-the-mill camera cell phones sending images across the globe. I was in the area with all the displays early in the morning in search of messages. I could not help notice the school children going from booth to booth learning about all aspects of biodiversity, taking pictures and asking questions. I also could not help but notice the grandparents helping the teachers guide the students through the maze of exhibits. It was then that it struck me that CEC member Laurie Bennett of Futerra Sustainability Communications was right: It is Love not Loss. That is the key message that we need to take from this meeting. This is the way to achieve the action that the world so desperately needs when it comes to stemming biodiversity loss.
Read more about Futerra work on branding biodiversity.