Conservation Optimism Summit

The University of Oxford’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science (ICCS), Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, are organising a ground-breaking summit which aims to reframe the conservation movement by celebrating positive thinking in conservation, and putting forward a road map for change towards an optimistic and forward-thinking future.

It starts by seeking out successes from around the world at the local, national and international scales. It then asks how we can learn from these successes to improve our conservation effectiveness in the future; how can we scale up good practice, and learn from our failures in a positive way.

Finally, we ask how conservationists can tackle the largest and most intractable problems of our time, such as over consumption and climate change; can we use the lessons and approaches we have considered so far, or is a step change needed in society’s approach to caring for our planet?

The Conservation Optimism Summit will take place over three days. The first two days, which will take place at Dulwich College, will showcase and explore the potential which can be unleashed by taking a positive and optimistic approach to conservation.

The last day, on Saturday 22nd April, Earth Day 2017, will take place at London Zoo and will have strong focus on empowering young people to act positively to change the future of their planet.

Conservation is too often seen as a crisis discipline, and one in which bad news predominates. Although we are facing huge challenges, there are many positive stories where conservation has made a difference to people’s lives and to the status of wild nature.

These stories may not be easily heard, perhaps because the media and science is more focussed on the negatives, perhaps because they are local, or perhaps because they are less immediate than failures but instead tend to be slow-burning trends.

It can be very difficult to maintain a positive outlook in these circumstances. Nor is this conducive to people joining or remaining in the profession or the public feeling they can make a difference. Optimism does not underestimate the challenges faced in conservation, but it uses both success and failure as opportunities to learn.

The event will partner with the Smithsonian’s Global Earth Optimism Summit in Washington D.C., and with partners at linked events around the world to engage with as wide a constituency as possible.

The summit has a truly international focus, with speakers from Belize to Papua New Guinea, hailing from academia, business, NGOs, politics, media and the arts. Our delegates will reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the event, with attendees from all over the world. People without a background in conservation are welcome to attend to find out how they can get involved in conservation, and the 22nd April is specially aimed at the general public.