Bottlenecks to Breakthroughs: Reasons for optimism 

For the first time in the Anthropocene, global demographic and economic trends that have resulted in unprecedented destruction of the environment are now creating the necessary conditions for a possible renaissance of nature. Drawing reasonable inferences from current patterns, 100 years from now the Earth could be inhabited by between six and eight billion people, with very few remaining in extreme poverty, most living in towns and cities, and nearly all participating in a technologically driven, interconnected market economy.  Such a world is cause to be optimistic, not only about future conservation breakthroughs but why our work during the current bottleneck of pressures matters.

This highly interactive workshop is designed to help participants develop their own bottleneck to breakthrough narratives for the countries where they live or work. After a brief introduction to the Bottleneck to Breakthrough theory (BioScience 68:412-426), the presenters will provide materials for participants to review country-specific data on (a) population growth rates, (b) poverty, and (c) urbanization for any country they choose, taking notes on a large poster sized sheet. They will then introduce colleagues to the work on the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs; e.g. O’Neill et al. 2017, Global Environmental Change 42:169–180) and review country-specific data on possible trends from 2020 – 2100, adding on to the art/text/graphical presentation each person develops. In the finale, participants will be invited to share brief, optimistic narratives of how conservation could succeed by 2100 in their chosen country, with reference to the theory and data notes.

This workshop will be led by:

  • Eric W. Sanderson, Senior Conservation Ecologist, Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Joe Walston, Senior Vice President for Field Conservation, Wildlife Conservation Society.