2019 Mitchell Lecture on Sustainability

2019 Mitchell Lecture on SustainabilityTuesday, October 8, 2019 at 2pm
Hauck Auditorium, University of Maine

A video recording of the lecture is available from our Vimeo Site.

An Optimistic Vision for a Sustainable, Wild, and Socially Just World

Keynote Speaker: E.J. Milner-Gulland, University of Oxford, U.K.
With remarks by Senator George J. Mitchell

In 2020, governments will hopefully agree upon a new vision for nature and people, that tackles the linked sustainability challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and human development in an integrated way. But how can high-level aspirations be translated into real, and timely, change on the ground, where complex ecological and social processes intertwine to constrain and derail the change needed for sustainability? Using examples from her work in conservation, Milner-Gulland explores how we could put more effective institutions and incentives in place, so that individual behavior and the decisions of companies and governments are more aligned with both ecological sustainability and improving human well-being. Her examples focus mostly on wildlife exploitation and rural people living in low-income tropical countries, but the lessons are universal. Given the challenging times we live in, it may seem perverse to claim that optimism is both necessary and warranted, but she ends by making this case.

E.J. Milner-Gulland is Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford. Previously she was Professor of Conservation Science at Imperial College London, and she has also held lectureships in Resource Economics and Mathematical Ecology. Her PhD, at Imperial College London, was on the wildlife trade, with a focus on ivory, rhino horn and saiga antelopes. Her research group, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science, undertakes a wide range of research, outreach and engagement projects, on five continents and in both marine and terrestrial settings. These include developing and applying methods for understanding, predicting, and influencing human behaviour in the context of local resource use in developing countries, and working with businesses to improve their environmental and social sustainability. Her team also works on controlling the illegal trade in wildlife and on designing, monitoring and evaluating conservation interventions in order to improve their effectiveness. She aims to ensure that all the research in her group is addressing issues identified by practitioners, and is carried out collaboratively with end-users.

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