Synchronicity Earth

Synchronicity Earth is a charitable foundation with an ambitious vision: a sustainable planet that values the interconnectivity and interdependence of all living things.

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Over the past year our research analysts have been hard at work mapping conservation interventions and identifying gaps in philanthropic spending. From this we are very excited to be forming partnerships with a number of charitable organisations. Our funding is helping to support a wide range of projects from mapping palm oil concessions in the Congo Basin to supporting the conservation of the Madagascan pochard to tackling illegal fishing in Western Africa. Over the last 6 months we also participated…

Our Portfolios

Over the past year, Synchronicity Earth has been carrying out in-depth research on each of its three ecosystem portfolios – freshwater, tropical forests and oceans. As well as reviewing a wide range of environmental, socio-economic and biological literature and data, we have had numerous discussions with NGOs and other funders (thank you all for your help), leading us to identify our portfolio priorities. In the process we considered gaps and priorities through investigating funding and conservation action, key drivers and…

Why we support international conservation? Part 3

In the final part of this series of posts, I look at the rational economic case for funding overseas. The economic argument Under 3% of UK philanthropic spending goes to environmental causes. As we’ve seen, this means that only around 1% goes to international environmental causes, which is, as we’ve also seen, where the greatest needs are. Yet conservation is cheaper – often by many orders of magnitude – in developing countries. Conservation costs vary geographically and are cheapest in…

Why we should continue supporting partners in the DRC

The British government announced today that it has stopped £21 million in aid to Rwanda due to accusations of its support for M23, a rebel group at the centre of current conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the same time it has said it will give £18 million to urgent humanitarian needs in the DRC. Perhaps this delay is a result of not wanting to repeat the mistakes of the past. In 1994, the UK failed…

Why support international conservation? Part 2

The previous post showed that most life on Earth is found in the tropics, where it is also being lost quickest. In this blog I discuss how the impacts of this are not evenly felt. The greatest needs (continued) The consequences of biodiversity loss and environmental decline can be severe. Developing country fisheries typically have no management data, yet supply food for so many millions of people and overlap with areas of high biodiversity. A recent study in Science found…

Why support international conservation? Part 1

“Charity begins at home”. What if we stretch the definition of ‘home’ to encompass the entirety of Earth? Understandably, this idea may not sit well with everyone. With that in mind we’ve compiled a list of reasons to prioritise international conservation. The next two posts discuss the list in more detail: • Biodiversity loss is a global problem. Globally speaking, the greatest needs are in tropical developing countries, where impacts are also felt more keenly; • Much of this need…

Moving Forward – Conclusions at CBD COP-11

By Katherine Secoy, Senior Policy Advisor, Zoological Society of London (a role part-supported by Synchronicity Earth). Last May, newly elected Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) secretariat, Mr Braulio Dias, stressed the urgent need for implementation of the biodiversity targets set in Nagoya, 2010, having failed to reach the 2010 targets. At the most recent Conference of Parties of the CBD (COP11), negotiations on financing the implementation of the targets was the main topic on the agenda. A…

Why Conservation is Important

By Henry Ficklin, aged 10. Many animals like the cod, the dodo and the American passenger pigeon used to be plentiful. But now two of these are extinct and the cod is very endangered. This can only be explained by human actions. Humans would use or eat these animals without being worried about conserving them. Numbers declined until they became extinct or endangered. If people had a stronger sense of conservation and the importance of these animals in their ecosystems…

Young people and conversation

Much of our motivation for conservation comes from a belief that we need to ‘save the planet’ for future generations, yet we rarely involve young people in discussions. Over the coming months, we hope to give some of these young people a voice through our blog: they will share with us their thoughts about environmental problems and their ideas about how we might want to tackle them. I have met some really inspiring young people recently and I want to…

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group meet to discuss….

The annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) is currently taking place in Tokyo, Japan (9-14 October, 2012). The meeting brings together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives and academics to discuss issues of global concern. Early in the proceedings, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank’s President, participated in a discussion on restoring growth and prosperity in times of crisis. During the meeting, one of the issues under discussion…

Another COP-out on the cards?

By Victoria Steele and Felix Whitton The 11th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-11) for the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) is underway in Hyderabad, India. The meeting of the UN convention – signed in 1992 to ‘promote sustainable development’ – comes in the wake of the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June and the 2011 Climate Change Conference in Durban (which resolved to develop internationally agreed and enforceable UN protocols by 2015). It is fair to say that hopes…

IUCN World Conservation Convention 2012

By far the best thing about the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress was the opportunity to meet people from around the world including from NGOs, governments, and private companies. The Christensen Fund provided financial support to representatives from 50 indigenous people’s groups so that they could attend the conference, and demonstrate how their ways of living are in harmony with nature. Similarly, scholarships provided by IUCN, amongst others, meant that local groups mixed with international ones, although questions remain about…

Evolutionarily Distinct Event

Last night we hosted a one of its kind event at London Zoo. We aimed to raise funds and awareness for EDGE of existence, one of ZSL’s conservation programmes and to highlight Synchronicity Earths species portfolio. EDGE conserves species that are both Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered and focuses much attention on species that are unusual, go generally unnoticed and receive little conservation attention. These species are generally unique in their behaviour, appearance and ecological niche. If these species are…

World Rivers Day

World Rivers Day is soon approaching. Every year since 2005 on the last Sunday of September, waterways have been being celebrated. This year World River Day falls on 30th September. World Rivers Day was established in response to the United Nations ‘Water for Life Decade’. Mark Angelo, a keen fly fisherman and paddler, first started celebrating rivers in Canada with BC Rivers Day in 1980. In 2005, he initiated World Rivers Day which has since become an annual event with…

World Conservation Congress – presents a list of 100 of the most threatened species!

A new book has been released at the 2012 World Conservation Congress – “Priceless or Worthless”. The book identifies 100 of the most threatened species and broaches the difficult topic of valuing nature. Are people willing to put huge amounts of time, effort and money into saving species with little or no direct monetary value to them or humanity as a whole? Prof Jonathan Baillie in statement asks: "We have an important moral and ethical decision to make: do these…

Jessica Sweidan speaks at “The Inheritors” workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, 7.9.12

I think I was asked to participate in this session because I am reasonably young (at heart at least) and possibly because I seem to be displaying an interest in doing things differently. I was asked to discuss the kinds of commitments and actions needed to involve young people in the IUCN and conservation in general – and, frankly, I wouldn't know where to begin. I'm new to the IUCN and conservation is a concept and a discipline that found…

IUCN World Conservation Congress 2012, Jeju

One of the key dates in the conservation calendar is now looming – the IUCN World Conservation Congress, taking place between 6-15 September in Korea. This event is only held every four years and brings together leaders from the conservation sector and non-governmental organisations, government and policy makers, public sector representatives, businesses, UN agencies and social organisations. The purpose is to discuss key topics in conservation and links with human, social and economic development. There are two parts to the…

Action Plan for Amphibians

A new report on amphibian conservation has been published in Surveys and Perspectives Integrating Environment and Society (S.A.P.I.E.N.S) on what is needed to put action into the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. This report was written by staff of the Amphibian Survival Alliance, one of our project partners, along with other amphibian experts. Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrate group, with 40% estimated to be at risk of extinction. Recent years have seen increasing pressures on their habitats, as well as…

Engaging with communities: Community Protocols

We've been thinking a lot lately across all ecosystems portfolios about how best to engage with communities to support them to manage their own natural resources and resist industrial scale expansion which threatens important biodiversity and livelihoods. We recently came across something called community protocols and have been thinking about how these are being and can be used in different ecosystems in different parts of the world to help communities advocate their own rights to government and industry. In many…

Ocean Health Index

Anyone who has read the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will know what the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything is: 42. It took the fictional supercomputer Deep Thought 7.5 million years to come up with that answer. A group of marine scientists and conservationists have taken rather less time to come up with the answer to the (Less Ultimate but Still Important) Question: ‘How healthy are the oceans?’ Their answer? 60. In a paper…

Ornamental Fisheries

Ornamental fisheries (fish for the aquarium trade) are an important component of international wildlife trade. FAO has estimated that the value of the international trade for ornamental fish has increased by around 14% per year since 1985. It has been valued at approximately USD 15billion per year as a combined figure for freshwater and marine species. Developing countries account for about two thirds of the total export and as such ornamental fisheries often play an essential role in human livelihoods…

Conservation Evidence – A project update

It has been three months since we started supporting the Conservation Evidence group at the University of Cambridge to develop a synopsis of evidence on amphibian conservation. Conservation Evidence publishes a website www.conservationevidence.com (with a searchable database), a journal and a series of books providing evidence on the effectiveness of conservation interventions to support decisions about nature conservation. Work for the amphibian synopsis involves listing all possible conservation interventions for amphibians, anywhere in the world, and compiling evidence for the…

A win for ClientEarth and the oceans!

Synchronicity Earth partner ClientEarth has used its legal knowhow to help block a move by Greenland to increase its whaling quota (including catches of endangered fin whales). In fact, the EU and other anti-whaling nations at the IWC were so persuaded by ClientEarth’s arguments that they refused any quota whatsoever. Congratulations also to Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society who partnered with ClientEarth on the campaign. Here’s what ClientEarth CEO James Thornton had to say: “Greenland (a territory of Denmark) has…

Canada and the Environment

A 2 July article in Yale Environment 360 gets the views of a number of Canadian conservationists about the Harper government’s attacks on environmental protection. Here are some quotes: “We have had lengthy and varied political experience and collectively have served in cabinet in Progressive Conservative and Liberal governments alike. We believe we have a fair understanding of the views of Canadians. Moreover, we believe there is genuine public concern over the perceived threat this legislation poses to the health…

The IWC: focusing on the wrong problem?

Last week the International Whaling Commission (IWC) had its annual meeting in Panama. Every year pro- and anti-whaling nations get together to battle it out on the issue of whale hunting – once a huge moral issue, now increasingly on the margins. On the agenda this year were whaling quotas for indigenous groups - which were approved - and proposals for a southern Atlantic whale sanctuary, which were shot down by Japan and allies. ‘Scientific’ (i.e. commercial) whaling by Japan,…

Sargasso Sea

On 12 June 2012 the Zoological Society of London hosted an event about the Sargasso Sea – a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean east of the Caribbean. Dr Howard Roe of the Southampton Oceanography Centre began with an overview of the Sargasso Sea. The sea contains around 1m tonnes of Sargassum, a rare type of seaweed, trapped by the surrounding currents and providing habitat for over 145 invertebrate species and breeding and spawning areas for many marine animals. The…

Amphibian Fundraising

Robin Moore (ASG/ASA), a great photographer, got in touch with a young American activist put together a small but very original project to raise awareness about the amphibian crisis. The project requires that we pay some costs up front (about US$15,000), so they started a small fundraising campaign through “kickstarter” – which went live yesterday. The project has 20 days to raise a minimum of US$3,000. If it does not raise that much, then it does not get a penny…

Internship opportunity with Synchronicity Earth

Location: South Kensington, London Duration: Ideally a minimum of 3 days/week for 3 months, although this is flexible Salary: Unpaid (some travel and subsistence costs covered) Deadline for application: 5pm Mon 16th July 2012 Start date: July 2012 Organisational Background: Synchronicity Earth was established in November 2009 with an ambitious vision: a sustainable planet that values the interconnectivity and interdependence of all living things. Our mission is to scale-up and deepen the impact of environmental philanthropy and to deliver effective…

“Global weight gain more damaging than rising numbers?”

This interesting, if slightly controversial article goes beyond blaming population growth for increased pressure on the planet and its resources to suggest that 'fatter' countries have a more damaging effect on the environment. The article draws on recent research by researchers at the London School of Hygene and Tropical Medicine which compares the BMI (Body Mass Index) of different countries. High BMIs may be the result of greater consumption and greater use of cars. The research shows that Japan has…

Rioplus20 Early Outcomes

In my last blog I covered the low expectations in the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth summit. As Rio draws to a close it seems these were borne out by events, barring an unlikely last ditch rescue operation by world leaders. Rather than analyse the shortcomings of Rio—there are plenty of people doing that—I want to ask a seemingly simple question: what next? 1. Focus on the positives Yes, the agreements reached in Rio are well short of what’s needed…

Common Fisheries Policy

Last week the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) took one step closer towards reform after a marathon meeting of fisheries ministers in Luxembourg. 18 hours of negotiations at the EU Council led to a discard ban—of sorts—and moves towards a maximum sustainable yield policy. A ban on discards—the practice of throwing overboard unwanted fish—has been a key campaign ‘ask’ for groups such as Fish Fight, led by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He hailed ‘a genuine breakthrough’ after the campaign garnered over…

Low expectations for Rio

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed ‘cautious optimism’ about the imminent Rio+20 summit, which begins on June 20. He might be the only one. The closer we get to the conference—marking the 20th anniversary of the original Rio Earth Summit in 1992—the more barriers are being thrown in the way of any useful outcomes. For a start, any agreement at Rio will be non-binding, allowing countries carte blanche to return home and continue with business as usual. Instead, nations…

Water issues at Rio+20

Discussions at Rio+20 are likely to focus on the need for people to have access to clean drinking water and sanitation. We hope that environmental concerns will also be addressed in these discussions and we will be keeping an eye (and posting our thoughts) on this critical issue. The Millennium Development Goals outlined the world’s commitment to halve the number of people without access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation by 2015. The world is on track to meet…

Update on Brazil’s Forest Code

On Monday, Brazil’s President Dilma Rouseff announced the details of proposed changes to Brazil’s Forest Code, a set of rules which apply to all privately owned rural land (not only forests). The code is conservation-minded on paper (it requires landowners to keep 80% of native vegetation in the Amazon, as well as conserving biodiverse habitats such as mangroves and riverbanks) but enforcement has been patchy since the code came into being in 1965. In recent years Brazil has made huge…

Rio+20

In June 2012 Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development will be taking place to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. This will involve a huge number of people, from governments, the private sector, NGOs and others, gathering in Brazil to discuss how poverty can be reduced and social equity advanced while ensuring environmental protection. The hope is that political commitments will be made and renewed for sustainable development and progress and…

Welcome to the Synchronicity Earth Blog

Hello and welcome to the Synchronicity Earth Blog! We will use this blog to tell you more about our research, what we’re reading, what we’re thinking and what we’re writing about. We may also have the occasional guest contribution. We hope to use this space to prompt interesting and useful debate and we welcome your thoughts and comments. If you would like to contribute a piece to the blog yourself, or have ideas about the kinds of the thing you’d…

Welcome to the Synchronicity Earth Website

Before we start introducing you to the different things we're thinking, reading and writing about, we'd like to take this opportunity to give you a brief tour of our website! Those of you who visited our previous site will see we've made a lot of changes and have developed a lot in both size and strategy in the last 12 months. Visit the 'About us' section to learn more about our history and why Synchronicity Earth was set up. You'll…