Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Thursday 3 March 2011

Measuring biodiversity awareness

Awareness is important for the broad acceptance and support in society for NBSAPs and other biodiversity conservation and sustainable development interventions. There is a difference between awareness (knowledge of specific biodiversity content areas), attitudes (values towards biodiversity) and behaviour (habits, practices and activities impacting on biodiversity). To measure it adequately, awareness has to be defined: awareness of the word biodiversity, of the scientific meaning of biodiversity, of the importance of species, of ecosystems, of ecosystem services, of ABS, of the current rate of extinction, of biodiversity’s life support role? All of these? Others? It is also important to define the audience (e.g. general public, youth, business, consumers, policy makers). Finally it is important to note that paradigms and perspectives on biodiversity are very different between countries. This may also differ between urbanised and rural countries/regions. The matrix provides a first indication of what is needed to track awareness of biodiversity values. In red are those observation sets that have a high priority, either due to the relative ease with which they can be measured or due to the close links to positive biodiversity outcomes. In yellow are observation sets that have a very low priority, because of difficulties to get the data and or the indirect links to positive biodiversity outcomes.

Some of the needed data exist in a number of countries, but they are not standardised or harmonised. Attitudes and awareness of ecosystem services and the relationship to biodiversity and human well-being are not known at all. In general baseline data is needed for all of this. There is no global baseline yet nor a global repository for the data. The EC has set up a regional baseline, which could be the basis for additional global work. For each observation set a body can be identified and made responsible. This target differs from many other targets in this document in its reliance on social data, so the body tasked with coordination needs to ensure it has the required capacities in this area. To make data globally relevant and comparable across cultural and language differences, careful thought will be needed with advice and input from a wide range of communication experts from CBD member states. The IUCN Commission on Education and Communication is an expert network that could be tapped into for advice.

The data are adequate in a relative sense and for some regions, e.g. trending EC questionnaires. The data are inadequate in an absolute sense, e.g. global attitude to biodiversity. Fine scale, detailed and well designed surveys of awareness of specific issues would be ideal . These have however their price tag and need time for preparation and coordination to be carried at the global scale.

So far our group work in the GEO BON workshop on indicators for the targets of the CBD strategic plan. It now will be peer reviewed.

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