Visual Artists to Show Leaders Visions of Sustainable Communities
A team of world-class visual artists and experts in sustainable development announced Nov. 23 it's launching a first-of-its-kind global conversation to learn what people want their communities to be like in 2030.
The project, called The Future We Want, is being conducted in cooperation with the United Nations (U.N.), leading up to the U.N.’s Conference on Sustainable Development, better known as Rio+20, next June in Rio de Janeiro.
According to one of its directors, William Becker, the project is assembling a group of the world’s foremost visual artists and technology experts who will use a variety of tools to gather ideas from around the world on this question—What do we want our community and lives to be like 20 years from now, including how we’ve addressed challenges such as climate change, population growth and resource limitations?
Based on responses, The Future We Want team will produce vivid videos and animations of life in a variety of cultures and nations in the year 2030, and unveil them in an exhibit at the Rio conference.
While the project is not an official U.N. enterprise—it's funded by individuals, corporations and foundations—it's designed to add a new dimension to Rio+20 and other upcoming U.N. events on sustainable development. The project’s title mirrors the U.N.’s tagline for Rio+20 announced Nov. 22 by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
“We have seen and heard a great deal about the future we must avoid,” Becker said. “It’s time for a conversation about the future we can build.”
The co-director of The Future We Want project, Jonathan Arnold noted that communications technologies available today make possible an unprecedented global dialogue. Arnold already uses advanced visualization technologies in his work as a successful smart-growth real estate developer in Kansas City, Mo.
“There is a point at which scientific warnings and dramatic media produce apocalypse fatigue when they focus solely on civilization’s collapse,” Arnold said. “When people reach that point, they feel helpless and they disengage. The Future We Want will provide balance by inviting and visualizing realistic ideas from people around the world about the positive future that’s possible if we put our minds to it.”
Becker and Arnold, who have been developing the project the past three years, noted that the power of positive vision was demonstrated more than 70 years ago when General Motors (GM) hosted the Futurama Pavilion at the 1939 New York Worlds Fair. Millions of visitors were shown models of a dynamic, highly mobile, car-centered society, offering hope during the Great Depression. Developed nations have invested in the GM vision ever since.
“It clearly is time for a new vision,” Arnold said. “The world shown in 1939 is no longer sustainable. The Great Recession, the growing impacts of global warming, impending shortages of water and other critical resources all have created another teachable moment in which we are learning that our old concepts of communities no longer work.”
“We believe the world is hungry for a future that is more stable, more secure, more resilient and more genuinely prosperous than the world we would get with business as usual,” Arnold said.
People interested in joining The Future We Want conversation can begin by clicking here.
For more information, click here.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.