Nature takes centre stage at RSA President’s Lecture - RSA

Nature takes centre stage at RSA President’s Lecture


HRH The Princess Royal joined more than 80 guests to hear from an expert panel discussing rewilding and other nature-based solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

RSA House played host to the annual President’s Lecture last night (13 June), with an expert panel convened to discuss new approaches to ‘nature stewardship’ directly aligning with the RSA’s Design for Life mission and our ‘Playful Green Planet’ work.

The annual event was hosted in the historic Great Room and introduced by HRH The Princess Royal, RSA President, and Tim Eyles, RSA Chairman. More than 80 guests attended the sustainably themed dinner, with the RSA’s Director of Design and Innovation, Dr Joanna Choukeir, expertly chairing the event panel.

Panellists explored what we can do individually and collectively to address issues of rewilding, bringing our urban spaces back to life, making them vital hubs for biodiversity and local communities, and ensuring future generations have access to spaces that have been restored.

Young environmentalists

Kabir Kaul, a conservationist, wildlife writer and RSA young Fellow, spoke passionately about reversing biodiversity loss in London, ensuring that urban spaces are brought back to life.

“Most people live in cities, and it is important that we make nature and biodiversity relevant to most people,” he said. “But often nature and cities are at a juxtaposition. We need to remove that concept and make sure that nature is accessible to everyone.”

Kaul discussed the importance of young people learning about the environment, and described how he has been communicating this message on news channels and children’s TV programmes. “It is so crucial that our next generation is nature-loving and nature-literate, so they are able to restore our land and protect our wildlife.”

Caitlin Turner, marine biologist and policy officer at the Sustainable Inshore Fisheries Trust, spoke about the urgent need to raise awareness of the issues impacting our oceans, including pollution and over-exploitation. She also works with young people to increase knowledge of marine conservation, and highlighted the work of the Youth Ocean Network and Young Sea Changers Scotland.

“Young people are currently due to inherit a future that they are having very little say in. But they have a vision for a more sustainable, equitable and just future for us all. We can achieve that future, but only if youth voices are included,” she said.

Economics and the environment

Chief Executive of Rewilding Britian Rebecca Wrigley highlighted why rewilding is a key solution both environmentally and economically. She described research from the Green Finance Institute suggesting that, without efforts to restore nature, GDP in the UK could be reduced by 6% by the 2030s.

Wrigley described nature as “our life-support system”, and added: “Nature’s restoration and rewilding across 30% of Britain is not just the right thing to do, it’s the most productive use of the land and sea.”

Sir Partha Dasgupta, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge, suggested that significant environmental progress would require us to “alter our language” with regard to economics. The author of the influential Dasgupta Review into the economics of biodiversity, said that we had become “programmed’ to think of wellbeing only in terms of GDP.

‘I would like to see governments, particularly treasuries, hire ecologists,” he said. It’s an outrage to me – natural capital is an asset, but treasuries don’t have any representation of that kind of asset.”

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