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Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Traps December 2, 2009

Summary: Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Traps
December 2, 2009
Co-organizers Alex Travis and Chris Barrett
A group of 16 faculty, staff and students gathered to discuss the impending, February 2010
workshop on this theme and prospective Cornell collaborative research around the intersection
between biodiversity conservation and poverty traps. Multiple participants observed that
Cornell has relatively large and distinguished communities of scholars who explore one or the
other of these topics, but limited integration across these groups. Few places do this well, so
there appears to be open space in which Cornell could position itself strategically, with adequate
support and the right players and topic(s). Michigan State (especially its Center for Systems
Integration and Sustainability, led by Jack Liu) was raised as a possible exception to the rule and
a model worth exploring. It was observed that Cornell has many good external partners to help
with field-based, highly contextualized research, which seems essential in this arena. A good
deal of discussion concerned the emphasis on biodiversity conservation as opposed to broader
ecosystem resilience/sustainability. Multiple participants emphasized that the connections
between ecological processes and the livelihoods of the poor were their interest and, arguably,
Cornell's comparative advantage (especially given strengths in agriculture and veterinary
medicine), rather than strictly biodiversity conservation per se. There was some discussion of
specific subthemes such as ecotourism and bioprospecting, especially with respect to identifying
where the private for-profit sector fits in the joint pursuit of biodiversity conservation and


Source: Angenent, Lars T. - Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University


Collections: Renewable Energy; Engineering