Key Advances of CbD 2.0

Rangers in Tosonhulstai Nature Reserve scan the horizon looking for gazelle, Eastern Mongolia. Photo by © Nick Hall

People and nature are increasingly challenged by larger human populations, higher consumption rates, larger-scale development projects, and diminishing and degrading natural resources, all in a changing climate. We can help nature flourish by offering a robust, science-based conservation approach that draws on existing strengths, and embraces new disciplines from economics to anthropology, and from demography to health.

Building off of an adaptive management iterative process of testing assumptions to learn, adapt and improve decision making in the face of uncertainty, the Conservation by Design 2.0 conservation process has evolved to incorporate four major advances. We believe that these advances will lead to better conservation strategies and better conservation outcomes, for both nature and people. These four advances are interrelated. Each one is described below.

Key Advance 1: People in Conservation

Conservation success is most sustainable when it is the result of systemic change within a socio-ecological system, whereby people recognize the benefits they receive from nature, how their decisions impact nature, and nature’s ability to provide these benefits. In turn, through this understanding, people are compelled to act to conserve nature, creating or reinforcing an enduring virtuous cycle. To create this kind of change, the conservation and natural resource management communities must broaden their approaches to explicitly consider the benefits of conservation for people.

Key Advance 2: The Imperative for Systemic Change

Systemic change refers to creating, strengthening, or shifting the social, economic, political, and cultural systems that comprise and sustain a socio-ecological system. The future of nature and the future of human civilization are interdependent. However, the major systems commonly used to describe the forces affecting that common future — economic, political, and social — do not adequately reflect this interdependence. Strategies that successfully strengthen these human elements of a socio- ecological system should ensure enduring conservation outcomes at scale.

Key Advance 3: Integrating Spatial Planning with Strategy Development and Selection

If we are to achieve systemic change, we must integrate spatial planning with strategy development to learn what actions are needed where. We must harness new kinds of spatially explicit data, including social, economic, and political data, in addition to biodiversity data, to develop effective strategies that consider the many dimensions impacting conservation efforts. These ‘strategy and opportunity maps’ can show where investments in specific strategies will be most effective. They can also help us compare proposed strategies, including their costs and benefits.

Key Advance 4: Evidence Based Conservation

Accountability to evidence is a hallmark of “science-based” decisions and organizations. Explicit consideration of the quantity and quality of the evidence supporting expected conservation outcomes can lead to improved strategies, more focused and fewer monitoring demands, and better identification and management of risks. Conservation strategies aimed at achieving systemic change depend on influencing others to act, and evidence that is relevant and effectively communicated to key audiences can be a critical asset for generating that influence.

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