The importance of international collaboration in the advancement of global ecological issues


Many of the ecological issues facing society require cooperation among the international community to effect substantive change. The successful negotiations in Paris that resulted in the first-ever international climate accord affirm the importance of fostering international collaboration to effectively address ecological issues on a global scale.

During the most recent edition of the Ecologist Goes to Washington podcast, immediate Past President David Inouye shares his insights as ESA president. His reflections include representing ESA for Climate Science Day on Capitol Hill, presiding during ESA’s 100th year, and his various collaborations and outreach efforts with other ecological societies of the world.

Past-President David Inouye looks on as President Obama addresses ESA during its Centennial meeting in August 2015 (Credit: ESA File Photo)

Past-President David Inouye looks on as President Obama addresses ESA during its Centennial meeting in August 2015 (Credit: ESA File Photo)

On Dec. 2014, Inouye attended the British Ecological Society and French Ecological Society joint meeting. The event included a luncheon meeting between the presidents and representatives of the world’s ecological societies. Inouye reciprocated by hosting a meeting for leadership of 13 international of societies during ESA’s Centennial Meeting in Baltimore this past summer.

“One of the things we did was to have each society talk about one particular success they’ve had and one particular problem issue that they face, and that gave the other society representatives an opportunity to contribute ideas about how they might solve that problem and how their societies might be able to benefit from that success that the other society had,” said Inouye. “So I made it a point during my year as a president to get to a number of ecological society meetings.”

Inouye also attended the Ecological Society of Japan’s annual meeting, the European Ecological Federation meeting and an International Phenology Conference in Turkey.

Aside from climate change, another ecological issue with worldwide consequences is the decline of pollinators. In the podcast, Inouye  discusses his work over the past two years as one of the United States representatives for an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment focusing on the status of pollinators around the world. Established in 2012, IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations.

The assessment will “address the role of native and exotic pollinators, the status of and trends in pollinators and pollination networks and services, drivers of change, impacts on human well-being, food production of pollination declines and deficits and the effectiveness of responses to pollination declines and deficits.” The final pollinator report is expected to be due out in Feb. 2016, after it has been approved by all participating countries.

In addition to climate change and pollinator preservation, food and natural resource scarcity, invasive threats, ocean health, and endangered species protection are among the many issues where partnering with other ecological societies and international entities will be pivotal towards preserving our diverse ecosystems and sustaining human society’s general well-being.