World leaders at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable development which embraces economic progress, social development and environmental protection for the benefit of all. One of the principal outcomes was the call to develop universally applicable sustainable development goals (SDGs) that balance the environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development. This process culminated in a final document, containing 17 goals with 169 targets covering a broad range of issues, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015.
A lesson from the Millennium Development Goals, the predecessor to the SDGs, was that a major barrier to success was neglecting the interconnectedness of goals - especially the linkages between environmental, social and economic aspects. At present, environmental issues are mainly addressed in SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life below Water) and 15 (Life on Land). However, environmental issues also underpin several other goals, and it is important to recognise the cross-cutting contribution that conservation and environmental strategies can make to the achievement of the SDGs.
The Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI) is a unique collaboration between the University of Cambridge and leading internationally-focused biodiversity conservation organisations clustered in and around Cambridge, UK. These include Fauna & Flora International (FFI), the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), TRAFFIC, IUCN, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), amongst others. CCI seeks to transform the global understanding and conservation of biodiversity and the natural capital it represents and, through this, secure a sustainable future for all life on Earth. The CCI partners together combine and integrate research, education, policy and practice to create innovative solutions for society and to foster conservation learning and leadership.
In late 2016, the CCI Collaborative Fund supported a project entitled: Unusual suspects: what contributions can biodiversity conservation organisations make to the Sustainable Development Goals? The project involves the University of Cambridge’s Department of Geography, FFI, BirdLife International, RSPB, and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The purpose of the project is to address the risk of fragmentation between the various SDGs and environmental issues, by tapping into CCI’s expertise and convening power to help answer the following:
The internship would assist with delivery of the latter part of the project, and provides a unique opportunity to be involved in a collaborative research project between a number of leading conservation organisations, IIED and the Geography Department at the University of Cambridge. In particular, the intern would contribute towards the following two project objectives:
1. Develop guidance for donors and applicants for future funding calls focussing on conservation-SDG links, informed by CCI organisations’ experience, including under the Darwin Initiative and the Global Challenges Research Fund.
2. Contribute to international policy dialogues by demonstrating tangible ways in which biodiversity conservation actions can help ensure an integrated approach to achieving the SDGs, and feeding this knowledge into decision making processes, including in relevant UN Conventions.
The intern will support the team in the writing-up the research findings in different forms (e.g. policy briefs, blogs, social media, academic paper), in order to disseminate them to a variety of audiences and to stimulate debate between conservation and development practitioners, researchers, donors, funders and decision-makers. The intern will also examine the implications of the findings for FFI and the organisation’s work, and further opportunities to build on this area of work.