Trevor Sandwith - What Will Make the Transformative Jump Towards Progress on Nature Conservation?




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Nov 25, 2015
by Heather Jaber
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Trevor Sandwith - What Will Make the Transformative Jump Towards Progress on Nature Conservation?

Trevor Sandwith, director of IUCN's Global Protected Areas Programme, discussed the universal potential of nature conservation and commitments to find innovative solutions for the planet

"Nature conservation is not only about having a great experience at a national park or about the work of a smartly-dressed park ranger," said Trevor Sandwith, director of IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme, at the first Parks for the Planet Forum. "It’s time to be relevant."

“Conservation has a value, and when we invest in nature conservation, we’re investing in the future, in addressing some of the problems that the world is creating,” he said. “So probably the way this goes is that we have to see a big shift in our thinking towards the rapidly changing world that we live in, and what it’s demanding of nature.”

Sandwith, an ecologist and nature conservation strategist, works in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Within the IUCN, a global membership organization that involves governments and nongovernmental organisations, he coordinates a program of work regarding protected and conserved areas around the world.

"Protected areas of all kinds," said Sandwith, "present universal values that come up in every culture and society around the world. “Our job in the centre is to acknowledge and respect these values and to help sustain this great diversity around the world.”

The inaugural session of the Forum wrapped up with recommendations by the Fellows mirroring the Promise of Sydney, which came out of last year’s IUCN World Parks Congress 2014. The Promise of Sydney is a shared vision to find innovative solutions for parks, people, and the planet.

“What will make the transformative jump that actually galvanises exceptional progress on these challenges?” asked Sandwith. “The big implementation question…having a plan doesn't make it happen unless you've got vital people. So we said, 'let’s not spend our time constructing yet another plan' — let’s ask ourselves, ‘What have we been doing that’s so promising that we should illuminate it and amplify it and do much more of it?’”

“The aim of the first Forum”, said Sandwith, “was to bring together sectors that don’t traditionally work together. It was immediately apparent that there was a convergence of a common set of interests, and distinct progress on how to interpret and take the issues forward collectively. The willingness of participants to focus on the potential rather than the obstacles was key”, he said, “in moving from ideas to committed action”.

“I think a lot of people have reflected on this — how did you do that? Was it the place? Was it the open-space thinking” he asked. “It’s a very positive energy that managed to flow here. I think that’s what the Salzburg Seminar has tried to propagate over the years, but it really does work in practice, and everyone got caught up in it.”

he Salzburg Global program Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation is part of the Parks for the Planet Forum. The list of our partners for Session 557 can be found here: