Synchronicity Earth’s Founding Trustee, Adam Sweidan, and I attended the recent International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) Leaders meeting in Abu Dhabi.
The IUCN SSC is a network organisation with a few core paid staff. However, the majority of its 140 Specialist Groups and committees are made up of thousands of passionate volunteer-experts, ranging from academics to NGO staff, whose work focuses on a diverse range of species including little-known fungi to the well-known African Elephant.
Around 300 people attended the meeting: their combined intellectual property is valued at between 1 to 10 billion USD. Workshop topics ranged from using and updating the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, planning species conservation actions and working more collaboratively; as well as more topical subjects such as the role of de-extinction (bringing back extinct species) in conservation and climate change impacts on vulnerable species.
While some groups are tasked with the coordination, improved communication of and bettering scientific information for just a single species, others are responsible for hundreds, sometimes thousands of different species. However, the common feature tying all these people together is their passion and dedication to the species and groups of species whose future they are working to secure.
Nearly a year on from our Biophilia Ball in honour of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species this conference highlighted the incredible work being done around the world to document, protect and promote the planet’s wildlife.
Many attendees have been working for decades to protect their species or group of species – regardless of whether it plays a role in ecosystem functioning, or provides ecosystem services. They are an antidote to the human tendency to only value what is considered useful, economically valuable or attractive – hence widespread concern for elephants (for example) over amphibians.
Sometimes, it is good to re-visit the idea that wildlife is something to be enchanted with, passionate about and seen as worth protecting regardless.
Proudly, our project partner – Mark Stanley Price of the Species Conservation Planning Sub-Committee was awarded the prestigious Sir Peter Scott Award in recognition of his contributions to the SSC over four decades, including founding and Chairing the Reintroduction Specialist Group. Congratulations!