Former President of the Republic of Kiribati and Conservation International (CI) Distinguished Fellow Anote Tong will officially launch the Centre for Applied Conservation Science at the University of Adelaide today.
Tong, who is known globally for his efforts in raising awareness for climate change and his work to protect marine areas, highlighted the need for innovative solutions to tackle the current environmental problems we face, most notably, climate change.
“We are now writing history, with every decision we make. In Kiribati, for example, we are experiencing the effects of climate change. Storms are intensifying, and we are losing our homes. However, it is not too late for the rest of the world to do what is right. Now, we need large scale solutions and technologies that can protect the environment to benefit all of us. The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Applied Conservation Science will bring together two world class institutions, with complementary expertise, to do so,” said Tong.
The Centre, established as part of a partnership between the University of Adelaide and CI, aims to advance conservation science across the region and foster new research collaborations.
The Director of the Centre, Professor Lian Pin Koh, is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and Chair of Applied Ecology and Conservation at the University of Adelaide. He is also a Conservation International Lui-Walton Research and Innovation Fellow.
Professor Koh said: “It is an honour for the Centre to have Anote Tong, one of the world’s most passionate climate change champions, show his support for the work we are doing. We want the Centre to be a model for demonstrating the powerful impacts that collaborations between academics and practitioners can have across the region, and indeed the world.”
The Centre is undertaking a conservation priority setting research exercise for the Asia-Pacific region.
This collaborative research program involves scientists and practitioners from both the University and CI, and seeks to identify priority areas in the Asia Pacific that are most important for the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as food, fresh water, livelihoods and climate resilience. The ultimate goal is to ensure the long-term sustainability of the region.
Conservation International’s Senior Vice President for Asia-Pacific, David Emmett, said: “CI has worked with Anote Tong since he was President of Kiribati and together we have made great steps to protect large areas of ocean and mitigate the effects of climate change in these areas. Through Tong’s involvement as a Distinguished Fellow at CI, and the expertise of the Centre, we will be able to conserve the most important places required for people and our incredible biodiversity to thrive.”
The Centre also welcomes National Geographic Explorer and internationally renowned zoologist Professor Kristofer Helgen as Deputy Director. Professor Helgen, also based at the University of Adelaide, has discovered about 100 species of living mammals. He will help oversee the Centre’s activities and conservation efforts.
The Centre for Applied Conservation Science is a Centre of, and supported by The Environment Institute.