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Wednesday, April 16, 2003

It feels like only yesterday, but this day last year was Day 3 of the Oxford Earth Summit...

The talks + quotes from this day are listed below and concentrate on highlighting some of the practical steps that can be taken if we wish to have a more sustainable future.

Speakers suggested steps worth taking included the enchancement of wildlife monitoring (in the UK and overseas), the valuing of social attributes other than financial wealth, taking urgent action to protect our environment (and to create alternatives to unsustainable exploitation) + making the global trading system fairer so that more people can work their way out of poverty...

During this four-day summit 30 humanitarian, environmental, business + political speakers (including representatives of Birdlife International, Oxfam, The World Bank, Oxford University, The Met Office, Water Aid, The Royal Society + The UN) were invited to give brief talks to the public at Oxford Natural History Museum.

The plan was to allow people with different perspectives to explain, in their own words, what they felt needed to be done in order to give people + the environment a more sustainable future and in this way to enable the audience to make up their own minds about some of the challenges, choices + change we face and where we should all aim to go from here...

I also hoped to stimulate a constructive + balanced debate in the UK before the UN's World Summit on Sustainable Development took place in Johannesburg in August 2002... but hey we can all dream!

The talks from the Oxford Earth Summit can be listened to as MP3 audio files and to give you a quick idea of what each talk was about I have highlighted some of the key quotes below.

Over the past year some things have changed, but it is no exaggeration to say that meaningful progress has been extremely limited... on the bright side, this failure to act means that most of the summit's expert talks are just as relevant today as they ever were!

My thanks to Ida, Oliver + Erica for their help before, during and after the summit and to all the speakers for covering their own expenses... without everyones' generous assistance the summit simply wouldn't have been possible on such a shoe-string budget! Cheers, Matt

I hope you'll enjoy the talks + please help to spread the word if you find them of interest!

DAY 3: Tuesday, April 16th 2002: "The choices we face."

Dr. David Macdonald: Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), Oxford University
Listen to David's talk entitled "British mammals - conservation begins at home" as a MP3.

* "Many of the UK's terrestrial mammals have been declining over the course of the 20th century."

* "Nobody knows quite how many species, or which ones, can be lost, before the functioning of particular ecosystems is distorted or even collapses."

* "There is currently no single co-ordinated, national, systematic and enduring scheme for monitoring Britain's mammals."

* "The basis for resolving all mammals issues must be sound facts, and without a strong and well-funded science base these will not be available."

Mr. Mike Woodin: Green Party
Listen to Mike's talk entitled "Greening globalisation" as a MP3.

* "In 1961 the income of the richest fifth of the world's population was 30 times greater than the poorest fifth, by 1991 it was 60 times greater and by 1998, 78 times greater."

* "Compared to 1950s/1970s we are 3-4 times as wealthy (vs 1950), there is 400% more traffic (vs 1950), we're no happier (US), we're more depressed (globally), fatter (UK), underemployed (globally) + there is greater inequality."

* "A Tobin Tax of 0.25% on international currency speculation would generate $250bn per annum (for the UN or development.)"

Dr. Malcolm Coe: Eart African Ecology
Listen to Malcom's talk entitled "The importance of biodiversity in the natural world. An East African perspective" as a MP3.

* "Since the dawn of of time of in Africa there have been changes and environmental changes."

* "In 1972-1973 there were 5000 - 6000 black rhino in Tsavo (National Park) there are now approximately 40 animals."

* "We need to devise other ways in which people can use the savannahs of Africa and we need to devise other ways in which we can help the economies of these people."

Dr. Ashley Leiman: Orangutan Foundation
Listen to Ashley's talk entitled "The biology and politics of Indonesia’s Orangutans" as a MP3

* "In 1900 there were approximately 315,000 orangutan today it is estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 survive in the wild."

* "Indonesia occupies 1.3% of the world's land area yet it possesses 10% of the world's flowering plants, 12% of all mammal species, 17% of all reptiles and amphibian species and 17% of all bird species."

* "Indonesia has some of the best legislation, it is all there, it's just not enforced."

Rt. Hon. Sue Doughty M.P.: Liberal Democrats
Listen to Sue's talk entitled "Rubbish in, rubbish out" as a MP3.

Dr. Nigel Collar: Birdlife International
Listen to Nigel's talk entitled "Birds, biodiversity and sustainability as a MP3.

* "...the use of science to promote conservation...we use an interest in birds to deal with matters of biodiversity at the larger scale and of sustainability."
* "1 in 8 of all bird species is threatened with extinction."

* "Some areas do not have any big charasmatic mammals but have an awful lot of biological diversity, some birds but of course thousands of plants and other life forms and thorough the use of birds we got new parks in this region (near Indonesia)."

* "Birds have good indicator qualities... as they appear across a broad range of habitats, reflect changes in other plants and animals, are responsive themselves to change, a lot of good data exists in the developing world, they are easily understood and explained and they are popular."

* "Birds can contribute to the general and greater well-being of everybody."

Dr. David Nussbaum: OXFAM
Listen to David's talk entitled "Tackling poverty in a trading world" as a MP3.
Link to www.maketradefair.com.

Oxfam is calling for:
"Rich countries to remove barriers to imports for all low-income countries."

"A comprehensive ban on agricultural export subsidies, which would end the cycle of over-production and export dumping by rich countries."

"An end to the practice of attaching conditions to IMF-World Bank loans, which force poor countries to open their markets regardless of the impact on poor people."

"Action to stabilise prices for primary commodities at higher levels, and pay more to small farmers."

"A more democratic World Trade Organisation which gives poor countries a stronger voice."

"Governments in the developing world to adopt national and regional policies that help poor people to access markets and benefit from trade."