GOLDEN, Colo., Sept. 6, 2012 – On Sept. 15, 2012, Colorado School of Mines will host a contingent of ordinary citizens who will join thousands of people across the globe in a worldwide discussion on biodiversity. The “World Wide Views on Biodiversity” event is a large-scale effort to collect citizen views on the global challenge of dwindling biodiversity. These views will then be shared during negotiations at the United Nations Biodiversity conference in Hyderabad, India, in October.
“Scientists are discovering that biodiversity loss will impact human health and the environment as much as climate change, pollution, or other more publicized environmental hazards,” said Mines Teaching Professor Sandra Woodson, an organizer of the event. “The variety of life on Earth is disappearing at an accelerating rate, and with this loss comes deep concern about how humans will adapt. I’m thrilled that Colorado will have a voice in this international discussion.”
Beginning at dawn in the Pacific and ending at sunset in the Americas, meetings will take place in 33 locations in 25 countries on four continents.
Mines is one of four U.S. sites for the “World Wide Views on Biodiversity” project, including a meeting hosted by Arizona State University in Phoenix, a meeting in Washington, D.C. hosted by George Mason University and Virginia Tech, and a meeting in Boston hosted by the University of Massachusetts and the Boston Museum of Science.
The 100 participants at the Mines conference present a broad representation of the citizens of Colorado. It is a diverse group of people with a range of ages, professions, education levels, gender and socio-economic statuses.
“We need the voices of ordinary people, because the policies hammered out by negotiators will directly affect our lives,” said Woodson. “The opinions expressed by all participants will come after they’ve learned more about biodiversity and then had a conversation about it. Not only will the negotiators receive the views of ordinary citizens, but these views will be the product of serious thought, not a collection of off-the-cuff responses to a poll.”
Also joining the discussion are a handful of students from Mines’ McBride Honors Program, a competitive program in which students explore the intersection of their technical expertise and the social sciences while studying abroad. These students will have the opportunity to learn first hand how major international policy is formed.
The WWViews on Biodiversity project follows a previously established method for gathering citizen perspectives on climate change prior to the 2009 U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
David Tauchen, Public Relations Specialist / 303-273-3088 / DTauchen@mines.edu
Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations / 303-273-3541 / KGilbert@mines.edu