This weekend I attended the FoE 2012 Conference to learn more about the campaigns and actions FoE are undertaking, as well as to listen to some interesting discussions on environmental issues. Here at Healthy Planet we work hard to help grassroots conservation projects achieve their aims through the support of the Healthy Planet Conservation Community. It was interesting to see how a much larger and long running environmental Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) works out its priorities!
Businesses and Ecological Systems
@PollyHiggins, Campaigning Lawyer, discussed innovative approaches to social change. There is currently a push towards the evaluation of nature to encourage businesses to appreciate ecological systems. Referred to as ecosystem services, these are provided for free by nature including water, air purification, timber and nutrient cycling. Polly argued that if you evaluate nature then it creates an ownership and will only encourage the current problems. She believes we need a radical shift in our attitude towards ecosystems and wildlife and the only way to change the relationship between business and the environment is through a legal and moral responsibility.
Unbalanced society and Government
@CarolineLucas , the first Green party leader, gave a very passionate response to the question ‘Do government or people bring about change?’ Lucas made it clear that the current relationship between government and the citizens is unbalanced. The governments frustrating and slow response to environmental policy is weak due to the lack of pressure from the citizens, while the citizens expect the government to take action on urgent environmental issues for them. A vicious circle indeed!
@Andy2Atkins , Exec. Director of FoE, joined in on the ‘Who brings about change?’ discussions. Atkins believed it is vital that all groups cooperate including large and small NGO’s, grassroot activists and local groups to focus their strategies allowing for less mixed messaging and more impact.
@KateRaworth , Senior Researcher at Oxfam, gave a fantastically engaging talk on the partnerships that social and environmental organisations must make. As she described there are planetary and social boundaries, living beneath the environmental ceiling where we no longer put excessive stresses on the environment but also providing a social foundation for every human on the planet. So how can this be done? It would take a lot of change but little resources, for example:
- To meet the calorie needs of the 13% of the world’s population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply
- Bringing electricity to the 19% of people who currently lack it could be achieved with less than a 1% increase in global CO2 emissions
- Ending income poverty for the 21% of people who live on less than $1.25 a day would require just 0.2% of global income.
5.) Professor Richard Owen, University of Exeter, discussed the much debated topic, geo-engineering. Described as ‘the deliberate intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order to moderate global warming’. There was a lot of interest from the audience and as much support as concerns for the concept of climate engineering. Owen talked of the methods available including releasing sulphate particles 20km into the atmosphere to reflect the solar glare that increases the warming of the planet. As bizarre and alien sounded, this does happen naturally near volcanos, researchers have found after an eruption the atmospheric temperature lowers by half a degree. Owen hopes the public awareness and interest in geo-engineering grows and is developed to have positive results for the conservation of our planet.
To read more about Raworths ‘Why we need planetary and social boundaries’
Friends of the Earth conference webpage: http://www.foe.co.uk/conference
All photos from http://www.facebook.com/wwwfoecouk
Healthy Planet is launching the Conservation Community
We will be bringing together people who care about the planet in our new social network which will take over our former product “Adopt a plot” and allow you to help conservation parks & activities across the planet in very practical and tangible ways. Launch date set for November 1st 2012! Download the PDF for details: Conservation community launch
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Written by Olivia Couchman, Conservation Coordinator at Healthy Planet