With support from the Alumni Innovation Fund, GESA alumni reconvened at the Conservation Optimism Summit in London (April, 2017) to present at a GEN hosted session titled NewGeneration of Environmental Leaders Embrace Whole Earth Conservation. GEN members from around the world shared their environmental success stories and showcased the diverse countries, disciplines and sectors that GEN represents. The session celebrated solutions, highlighted the central role that people play in conserving biodiversity, ecosystems and cultural landscapes, and provided examples of exciting, avant-garde Whole Earth thinking:
Anna Varga (GESA 2011, Hungary), ecologist and ethnobiologist researcher at the Centre for Ecological Research of the Hungarian Science Academy in Hungary, looked at how the growing gastronomy and ‘food-ism’ culture in Hungary contributes to the maintenance and conservation of wood pastures (one of the most threatened biocultural hotspots of Europe).
Nessie Reid (GESA 2013, U.K.), Political Ecologist and Performance Artist, explored the role that art can play in engaging and informing civil society in issues around climate change, and more specifically one of the most pressing dilemmas facing our human species today: agriculture.
Aili Pyhälä (GESA 2015, Finland), Senior Lecturer in Development and International Relations at the University of Jyväskylä, spoke of the role indigenous peoples and local communities play in maintaining and enriching biodiversity in their territories.
Kerstin Forsberg (GESA 2012, Peru), founder and director of the Peruvian non-profit Planeta Océano, shared her journey as a young biologist and social entrepreneur whose work focuses on empowering communities to lead marine conservation efforts.
Ugo D’Ambrosio (GESA 2015, Spain), GDF’s Mediterranean Programme Ethnobiology Director discussed urban biocultural diversity, food sovereignty and migration in Barcelona.
A GEN Expert Panel comprising Yuki Yoshida (GESA 2013 Japan), Karlis Rokpelnis (GESA 2015, Latvia) and Angela Easby (GESA 2015, Anishinaabe, Ouendat, and Haudenosaunee shared traditional territories) were beamed in from Japan, China and Canada respectively to provide additional insights and reflection on the presentations.