Last week I attended an introduction ceremony for the Global Conservation Act of 2010. The room was filled to capacity, though I suspect a main reason for this is that the actor Don Cheadle, who will soon be named the UN Environment Ambassador, and Dr. Jane Goodall, the UN Messenger of Peace, joined a few of the sponsors of this bill (Congressmen Carnahan, Dicks and Fortenberry) in advocating for the passage of this bill.
This act, which was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, recognizes the importance that the United States plays in global conservation and asks that the U.S. prioritize efforts and develop a clear vision to address the conservation crisis we face today. And this is a crisis – our forests, fish stocks, fresh water sources, healthy soils, coral reefs and wildlife are disappearing at an alarming rate. The loss of these ecosystems and species doesn’t just affect the local communities that depend on them daily; they also affect the world economy and global security.
The Global Conservation Act of 2010 introduction ceremony brought us together in pursuit of a path forward in addressing this crisis. And when I wasn’t hounding Don Cheadle for a picture, I was moved by his passion and of all those who spoke about the importance of this act. Conservation is an important personal issue to me, but to hear speakers much more eloquent than I talk about why it’s so important is inspiring. Don Cheadle stressed how we are now in a moment of greatest need, and though we logically know this, we need fortitude and strength to challenge our leaders to take action. And Dr. Goodall, who has been a leading voice in this field for 50 years, added that if all the U.S. agencies worked together, the power that they could generate would make a huge difference on the ground and in the lives of so many.
One of the last things that Don Cheadle said was that those of us who have a light shine upon us have a responsibility to refract and reflect that light to more important areas and issues. I am grateful that both he and Dr. Goodall were here shining a light on the critical need for conserving our ecosystems and species and ultimately our future well-being.
Manuel Oliva is CI’s director of U.S. climate policy.