A Commitment to Double Down in 2020
January 3, 2020
By Manuel Oliva, CEO
In the weeks since attending the United Nations climate negotiations in Madrid as part of the Point Blue’s official delegation, I have spent a good deal of time reflecting on the outcomes of the meeting. On the one hand, the negotiations themselves did not advance in the way that we all hoped would match the level of ambition necessary to address the climate emergency we face. On the other hand, in the hallways outside of the negotiation rooms I was able to participate in discussions with representatives of various countries and organizations who are continuing to show leadership and advance innovative climate change solutions. During these discussions as I learned about the climate change actions and priorities occurring in different countries worldwide, I shared stories of Point Blue’s work across California.
As leading conservationists and I discussed how to balance strong climate change mitigation and adaptation actions with the conservation of critical biodiversity and ecosystems the relevance of our science to communities across the globe was never more clear. A few examples:
- The United Nations has declared the next ten years to be the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. In addition to studying the science of restoration (through which, for example, we recently found that restored riparian areas can sequester just as much carbon as intact rainforests), Point Blue also actively implements restoration. Through our STRAW program, 3,000 students a year participate in restoring degraded land in California, from critical Sierra meadows to wetlands and riparian areas around the San Francisco Bay.
- Our Migratory Shorebird Project connects professional researchers and citizen scientists across 13 countries in the Pacific flyway from Alaska to Chile. Through trainings, collaborative data sharing and analysis, and outreach to in-country decision makers, Point Blue and partners are showing the potential of large-scale coordination to achieve conservation impact.
- California has over 800 miles of coastline and as sea levels rise, coastal communities are facing tough decisions. We created the Our Coast Our Future tool to help planners explore scenarios and identify vulnerabilities. Over 95% of the urbanized coast has used the tool in their planning and we recently shared the tool at the California-Chile Conservation Exchange.
In Madrid, the importance of our work to the international community was reinforced as I sat listening to Secretary Wade Crowfoot, the California Secretary of Natural Resources, who spoke of the successes and lessons learned in California through a commitment to science and policies that treat climate change as the emergency that it is. And when the Secretary and I spoke after, we discussed the important role of nature-based solutions as a key element in helping California meet our climate adaptation and mitigation goals, and their potential to support many of the countries present at the negotiations to do the same. I was proud to see US leadership through the efforts of California and to see this leadership adding to the global dialogue. And I was even more proud of our 160 scientists across the state who are contributing to this leadership.
In this moment when we look to the new year and new decade, I am more convinced than ever that Point Blue’s science and work across California has the potential to help create real and lasting change, here at home and across the globe. I am committed to ensuring Point Blue doubles down on its science, strengthens its partnerships for collaborative action with all communities, and empowers everyone we work with through education and outreach. And I am excited to be doing this together with all of you.