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Speaker: Dr Robert Bloomfield, bioDiverse.org
Mobilising support for biodiversity preservation needs to consider the interaction between expert knowledge holders – usually biologists, natural science and conservation researchers, policy makers and wider publics and communities. Understanding perceptions of biodiversity and the relevance of biodiversity to both people’s lives and to wider policy questions is significant. Bob Bloomfield OBE has worked in the interface of these three constituencies in a range of circumstances and explores some of the lessons learned. These include addressing underlying preconceptions which can undermine communications; understanding the wider role of biodiversity conservation initiatives in the context of social equity and justice and the importance of seeing how complex environmental questions can be reduced to limited and incomplete distillations in the policy process so that imaginative responses are still required to achieve successful outcomes even where policies are put into place.
Bob Bloomfield studied for a Doctorate in Genetics at Birmingham University before becoming interested in science in society and taking up a role at the Natural History Museum in London, There he went on to lead the public-facing department of Exhibitions and Education. As an innovator his work resulted in significant changes in how science-engagement activities took place including being the thought-leader for the then ground-breaking Darwin Centre which has since been emulated in the US. This work also resulted in him being awarded a NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) Fellowship which he used to explore how narratives in the history of science and exploration related to the understanding of environment. In 2007 his attention turned to leading large-scale engagement programmes around the understanding of natural science and environment; Bob championed Darwin200 the Multi-partner programme celebrating Darwin’s bicentenary in 2009, he went on with legal waiver from the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to coordinate the response to the International Year of Biodiversity 2010 on behalf of the UK Government.
Bob’s work has developed in a number of capacities becoming an advisor to Defra on issues of public understanding of biodiversity and taking an active role in supporting the Westminster All Party Parliamentary Group for Biodiversity. Bob was the co-leader of an academic symposium (Biodiversity, Knowledge Politics) at the University of Cambridge 2012) looking at interdisciplinary responses to IPBES (International Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services). Since 2013 Bob has worked with conservation biologist Professor Eduardo Santana-Castillion advising on ambitious plans of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico to create an innovative Museo de Ciencias Ambientales. Another strand of his work is for a significant Trust in Myanmar for whom Bob has been reviewing Myanmar’s environmental and forest policies and laws and looking at initiatives which would lead to better environmental outcomes alongside the development of sustainable livelihoods in a country which faces unprecedented challenges as it also tries to overcome decades of civil war.