Future Leaders Academy in 1st World Forum on Ecosystem Governance at Beijing China; Oct, 2015

The selection process for the Future Leaders Academy must have been very tough and competitive because the Leaders are very knowledgeable and experienced. It is a pleasure to be a part of this group and work together with them. The big surprise for me is the diversity of the group. They not only come from different countries, but also from different educational backgrounds. I’ve met Leaders coming from neuroscience and health fields, while I myself focus on nanotechnology and energy applications. We are connected by a passion for greener future where ecosystems and ecosystem governance play a very important role.
I participated in three seminars today. The first seminar on “Adapting to climate change” lead by Angela Andrade and Jim Hallett encouraged the group to think what are the issues that we come across while dealing with climate change projects. Several very interesting issues have been mentioned. While all agreed that society is aware of the climate change issues, it is not empowered enough to actively participate in the mitigation process. Additionally, there is a lack of stakeholder engagement when it comes to the climate change projects. Due to its dynamic nature, most of the climate change projects should be done within agile project management framework, where the project goals are carefully evaluated after every project step and adjusted with stakeholders.

The second seminar titled “An ecosystem perspective on mitigation” run by Mine Pabari and Madhav Karki focused on tools, ideas and innovation within climate change mitigation. Although, we shifted slightly from the topic we have achieved quite a bit in only 1.5 hour time slot. The biggest discusson we had focused on pros and cons of short term and long term projects when it comes to the climate change. The group had very mixed opinions on this problem.

The last seminar today focused on “Valuing natural capital” by Zhu Chunquan and Emmanuelle Cohen Shacham. The topic turned out to be very controversial to the group and attracted a great debate. After a brief introduction to the field. Some of the Future Leaders expressed their opinion, saying they feel very uncomfortable trying to express or evaluate ecosystems, their values and services in terms of money and financial benefits. Surprisingly, this topic is not very new, but the approach seems to be very immature. There are several frameworks and tools that support the whole evaluation process, however the legitimacy of these tools left the group with some doubts. While the topic is important there needs to be one solid and consistent framework that can be followed.

The Academy is very stimulating and developing. I am looking forward to the next day.

Day three
The third day of the Forum and first day of the Forum Technical Sessions started with official introduction. Piet Wit and Steve Edwards (both from IUCN) introduced Forum’s Vision. Ed Burrows gave very inspiring talk on the Red List of Ecosystems. While you may have heard of IUCN’s flagship Red List of Endangered Species, you have to check the RLE (http://www.iucnredlistofecosystems.org)

The general introduction to the forum and its vision was followed by introduction to the forum themes. There were two streams “Governance of Ecosystems to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals” and “Governance of Ecosystems to Respond to Climate Change”. I have participated in the second stream managed by Angela Andrade, the Deputy Chair of IUCN CEM. Angela introduced the topic and gave us idea of what the Roundtable Discussions are going to be. There were five separate roundtable discussions covering different topic within each stream. Each roundtable had three sessions (morning, afternoon, and the last session to be held tomorrow). First session focused on identifying issues, second on solutions to identified issues and the last will cover identifying priority actions.

My round table was on “Adapting to climate change”. The first session was extremely fruitful; we have identified 25 issues and further on grouped them. The grouped issues include:

– Communication,
– Education and Training,
– (lack of) Innovation and Technology,
– Financing,
– Capacity Building,
– Stakeholders,
– Culture,
– Loss and Damage.

We have also come up with several questions related to the above issues, however I will skip them here due to lack of space. We also agreed within the group that uncertainty is an issue that is common for all the above. Having identified the issues, we could start another roundtable discussion on solutions. We have considered every of the issues above and tried to come up with feasible and sustainable solutions and best practices. Again, I will skip it here due to lack of space. The second roundtable discussion was as fruitful and energetic as the first one. We’ve done a great team work. The second roundtable discussion was followed by the Armchair Conversations. After great introduction to the Red List of Ecosystems I have decided to learn more about this iconic project. The Armchair Conversation on RLE was given by Nik Murry from UNSW in Australia. Nik is one of the Future Leaders. Nik and his team in Australia have done amazing work developing the framework and practices for RLE. Again, I highly encourage you to read more on http://www.iucnredlistofecosystems.org. The database is constantly growing and by 2025 most of the ecosystems are going to be covered. Another armchair conversation that I went to was facilitated by Philip Liwei Chen from Parks Canada. Liwei used his amazing skills to develop understanding and teamwork and to show us how to improve it. After second armchair session we headed to the bar to continue our team exercises…

Day Four at Future Leaders Academy
Today all the working groups finalized their work and identified priority actions for Beijing Declaration. The draft of the declaration is ready. The team is currently reviewing it and making necessary changes. It was a stressful day, but our great teams managed to deliver significant change to the field – Beijing Declaration. This document is very important and will be presented at COP21 in Paris. Participants of the Future Leaders Academy got a chance to develop the Future Leaders Declaration, which will serve as an appendix to the Beijing Declaration and is considered to be a voice of young generation. It was amazingly productive day. Additionally to the above, I have facilitated Armchair Conversation on “Nanotechnology and ecosystems”. The topic attracted around eight participants and resulted in some great outcomes.


Author: Bartłomiej Kołodziejczyk, IUCN CEM YPN Nominee for the Academy

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