Nicolas Titeux / Invited lecturer

Université catholique de Louvain / Biodiversity conservation

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As a researcher in biodiversity conservation, I am particularly concerned with the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. Climate change has now impacted all facets of nature with negative consequences for people and their quality of life. It poses an increasing risk due to the accelerated pace of change. However, I am even more concerned with the impacts of a cocktail of anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity. Climate change is a worrying pressure, but it is certainly not the only one. Habitat loss and degradation have strong impacts on terrestrial biodiversity worldwide and direct exploitation of natural resources (e.g. overfishing) are particularly affecting the marine biota. All these pressures are closely intertwined and the proposed solutions to combat one of them have an impact on the other ones. For instance, cropland expansion for biofuel production often comes at the expense of tropical forests and is among the fastest-growing cause of biodiversity loss today.
I find it extremely difficult to implement changes in my life style because the interactions between these different pressures are not obvious and often teleconnected: a solution implemented here and today can have an impact tomorrow at some other places. Hence, I am struggling to identify actions to combat climate change with minimum impacts on other important pressures. I recently came back to live and work in Belgium and I decided to rent an almost passive house to evaluate if this is the kind of action I am prepared to implement with my family on the long term. I am also trying to take public transport and buy local food, but I find it particularly difficult to implement such actions when raising small children, mostly because of a lack of time. Importantly, I am trying to develop opportunities to connect my kids to their natural environment as I am convinced this is a key part of the solution towards a societal change.
I consider that integrating the interacting environmental pressures to find the best trade-offs and synergies between possible solutions is one of the key challenges for the future. We should not neglect the long-lasting causes of environmental degradation when looking to the future because they will continue to have important and immediate impact. There is a lack of decision-making framework able to integrate these closely intertwined pressures and we need such an integrated vision to meet my main concern.

Originally posted 2018-05-06 05:22:43.