Gateways to Conservation: Connecting People to Nature is a new photographic exhibit at the United Nations headquarters that emphasizes the importance of why the global community needs to unite to preserve natural and cultural diversity. It examines the link between environmental conservation and human security to raise awareness about global conservation.
The exhibit is organized by The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Christine Alfsen from UNESCO/New York and one of the theme leaders of the Urban theme at the centre, has contributed to the exhibition and highlighed the urban research-policy initiatives coordinated jointly by UNESCO/Stockholm Resilience Centre (see picture below).
Exhibit opened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon
The exhibit runs from 23 October 2008 through to 9 January, 2009, in the Main Gallery of the United Nations Visitors´ Lobby. It features some stunning images of wildlife and conservation sites from around the world, ranging from Madagascar´s Makira Forest - home to many species found nowhere else on earth - to Patagonia´s wildlife-rich coastal areas. This exhibit underscores the need for governments, the international community and citizens to unite to preserve natural and cultural diversity, from familiar landscapes to the farthest corners of the earth.
- Humankind´s heavy footprint has already caused the disappearance of many, many species, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Many more are endangered. This exhibition is a timely reminder not only of the wonders of nature, but of our dependence on the environment. I hope we will all leave here truly inspired to do our part for conservation, Ban Ki-moon added.
Connecting people to nature
The exhibit features three distinct galleries: Healthy Humans, Healthy Environments, which looks at the interconnectedness of human, animal and ecosystem health; Protecting Habitats and Wildlife, which offers solutions to the myriad challenges in preserving biodiversity; and Connecting People to Nature in an Urbanizing World, which builds awareness of and appreciation for ecosystem services in this new millennium.
- The reversal of current trends in the loss of biodiversity and degradation will only be possible if dealt with in an integrated and interdisciplinary manner that combines the fields of social and natural sciences, formal and informal knowledge and communications. UNESCO demonstrates this approach through its global networks of Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, says UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.
- This exhibition is a superb example of the effectiveness of partnerships between science and policy through public outreach, he adds.
Effective stewardship of ecosystem services
Today, 3.2 billion people live in cities, a number larger than the entire global population of 1967. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, a full two-thirds of the world´s population will live in urban areas. The UNESCO/Stockholm Resilience Centre Urban Biosphere Network — highlighted in the exhibit — connects scientists, planners and policy makers for sustainable management of the urban landscape.
- Our initiative provides stakeholders in a variety of places such as Capetown, Istanbul and New Orleans, with tools for implementing effective stewardship of ecosystem services for human well-being and improved capacity to deal with change, says Thomas Elmqvist, professor at Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Map of human footprint - a unique portrait of our global impact
The exhibit also features representations of the Human Footprint, a map created by scientists using satellite imagery, census data, and computer mapping technology to create a unique portrait of our global impact on every square kilometer of the Earth.
From loss of forests to increased roadways into remote areas, the Human Footprint factors in human activity that is directly shaping a full 83 percent of the planet. This snapshot is designed to encourage all of us to anticipate the consequences of our choices and take steps that shape our future in positive ways.