Often major international meetings, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, can seem inaccessible and primarily geared toward the experts and high-level figures. The World Wide Views on Biodiversity project is one effort to bring this international conference to the people, or rather to bring the voices of citizens from around the world to the negotiations. On September 15 3,000 citizens in 25 countries participated in a day-long facilitated discussion on issues pertaining to biodiversity. The day was clustered into four themes:
- Introduction to biodiversity
- Biodiversity on land
- Biodiversity in the sea
- Burden and benefit sharing
After each topic was discussed, participants answered a series of related questions, which were then aggregated across the globe to depict the citizen’s perspective. The theme of biodiversity on land focused primarily on protected areas and agricultural production.
So what was the general global consensus regarding biodiversity on land? Survey results indicated that there is strong support for integrating biodiversity issues into planning activities, more incentives should be provided for stakeholders to protect biodiversity, and more effort needs to go into educating school children and the general public.
Interestingly, opinions about meeting future demands for food differed significantly between developed and developing countries. Participants in the developed world expressed a need to reduce the demand for more food by eating more plants and less meat. However, developing country participants were more inclined toward intensifying agricultural production to avoid conversion of natural areas. Only about 20% of respondents voted for extensive, biodiversity-friendly agriculture. One of the principles promoted through an integrated landscape approach is a mixture of land uses across a landscape, leaving room for natural habitat, intensively cultivated land, and features that promote biodiversity in production areas (like agroforests or live fences). How would this approach fare in the citizen discussions at World Wide Views? Maybe landscape approaches will be part of the next World Wide Views.
The project aimed to contribute to the first strategic goal of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of building awareness of the values of biodiversity and providing a platform for people to make their voices heard. Two events next week at the CBD will showcase the results of the project, and connect stakeholders with policy makers in further discussion.
Read the final report for the full complement of results.