Bringing people together to discuss and debate new topics

Bringing people together to discuss and debate new topics

Since the Programme was founded in 2008, Shared Challenges has run brainstorming workshops to bring groups of people together to introduce their work, exchange ideas and explore the potential for future collaboration. Topics discussed so far range from food security to habitat restoration and certification.

Some of these discussions led to further collaborative work. For example a brainstorming meeting to discuss climate change impacts on species in February 2011 and one to discuss IPBES in April 2011, led to successful applications for funding from CCI. Others, such as a workshop to discuss linkages between poverty and conservation in March 2012 and a discussion centred on certification and production in December 2011, were ‘one-off meetings’ that helped people to build up a picture of related work being carried out across CCI.

Similar discussions also brought people together to talk about current policy issues and funding calls. In July 2011, the Programme invited three speakers from JNCC, RSPB and Natural England to give a short presentation on the UK government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ in the Conservation Science Lab in the Department of Zoology. A combination of experts close to an issue followed by a general questions and answer session was shown to be a good template for future policy-related discussions.

The Programme also catalyzed two discussions in summer 2011 around two funding calls from NERC for BESS (Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability) and the Valuing Nature Network. The first of these meetings led to two of the CCI partners – RSPB and BTO – being included together with the Department of Geography in a successful bid to BESS, led by St Andrews University.

Key Activities

A selection of ‘hot topic discussions’ include:

Responding to calls from NERC for the Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Sustainability research programme (BESS – 5th July 2011) and the Valuing Nature Network (22nd August 2011)
These two meetings brought people together who are either already submitting an application in response to these two NERC funding calls, or who could be interested in coming together to form a collaborative bid. The workshop on BESS directly led to RSPB and BTO being included, together with the Department of Geography, in a successful consortium bid, led by St Andrews University: A hierarchical approach to the examination of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem service flows across coastal margins (CBESS)

Natural Capital Compact review (21st September 2011)
CCI partners provided input into the Cambridge Natural Capital Leaders Platform Rio +20 ‘Compact’ which sets out what businesses will do – and what business needs from government – in order to sustain the Earth’s natural capital. The compact was signed by 16 companies including Mars, Nestle, Puma and Unilever and can be downloaded from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) website.

The UK government’s Red Tape Challenge (8th June 2011)
The aim of this meeting was to provide information about what the UK goverment’s Red Tape Challenge really means and to help people to decide what actions they, as individuals, would like to take.

Post 2010 indicators (30th March 2010)
This meeting helped to catalyze further discussion of ways in which the 2010 Biodiversity Indicator Partnership (BIP 2010) indicators can be linked together to provide a more detailed picture of trends in biodiversity.  This led to the development of successful a Collaborative Fund project:  Numbers that drive policy for conservation: linked indicator sets for the post-2010 CBD framework

Conservation and people (25th February 2010)
The aim of this meeting was to explore aspects of the ‘People and conservation agenda’ and identify shared challenges or opportunities that could be explored as CCI collaborations. The meeting raised a host of interesting issues and laid the foundation for a meeting in 2012 centred on ‘Linking poverty and biodiversity’.

Food security (13th February 2010)
This meeting brought people from across CCI together to discuss linkages between food security, biodiversity and climate change. The establishment of a new University of Cambridge Strategic Initiative on Food Security makes this a fertile area to explore for future collaborative projects.  For more information about the elements of this Initaitive that relate to conservation, please contact Ben Phalan.

A discussion on advanced biofuels (6th July 2009)
This round table discussion brought together researchers from across the University who are developing advanced bioenergy technologies with conservation experts to discuss potential implications of second generation biofuels and fuel from algae for GHG emissions, land use change and biodiversity.

Conservation Impact

All of these activities and the other Shared Challenges projects generated networks of people across CCI with common interests. The most extensive of these are related to ecosystem services and remote sensing where more than 100 people are have either been involved in Programme activities or CCI funded projects, or are known to be interested in each of these areas. These networks will be used to help generate future collaborative activities and opportunities across CCI.

CCI partners Involved


Thumbnail and Banner Images:
Kalyan Varma