2008 Sustaining Cultural and Biological Diversity in a Rapidly Changing World: Lessons for Global Policy

The past two decades have witnessed an upsurge of interest in the links between cultural, linguistic, and biological diversity. These various manifestations of the diversity of life are under threat, yet in both scientific inquiry and the realms of policy and management nature and culture are often treated as separate and unrelated entities. This stems in part from the mutual isolation that has traditionally characterized training and work in the natural and social sciences, as well as a limited appreciation of the relevance of the vast variety of approaches to human-environment relationships that have developed across the world’s diverse cultures based on a perception of humans as part of, rather than separate from, nature. Fragmented approaches have not been successful in arresting the growing erosion of the world’s biodiversity and of the vast and diverse pool of cultural knowledge, practices, and languages developed by humanity. This is resulting in an ever less diverse and resilient world.

Sustaining Cultural and Biological Diversity in a Rapidly Changing World: Lessons for Global Policy brought together leading natural and social scientists, conservation and development practitioners, members of indigenous, local, and tribal communities, representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations, U.N. agencies, universities and research institutions, funding organizations, educators, students, and others in relevant fields to bridge gaps, address challenges and opportunities, and help to forge a long-term multidimensional vision for sustaining biological and cultural diversity.

The symposium was co-organized by the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, IUCN-CEESP Theme on Culture and Conservation, Terralingua, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation. The symposium was made possible by major support and organizational assistance from The Christensen Fund. Additional support was provided by The Rockefeller Foundation, The Mack Lipkin Man and Nature Series, Oak Foundation, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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