In celebration of World Environment Day, the Nature Summit brought together artists, innovators and storytellers to explore this year’s theme of “connecting people to nature” on June 5 at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.
The Nature Summit, organized by the UN Environment’s North America Office in partnership with the Embassy of Canada, Voice for Nature, and the Global Environment Facility, attracted over 100 environmental leaders and communicators.
At the Summit, H.E. David MacNaughton, Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, remarked on the importance of the day and Canada’s leadership role in ensuring a more sustainable future. He took pride in reflecting on some of the happiest days of his youth being with nature around the Great Lakes.
Connecting People to Nature
In a dynamic discussion moderated by renowned adventurer and environmental storyteller, David de Rothschild, speakers showcased new messages and mediums to inspire a deeper engagement with nature highlighting the power of storytelling as a tool for provoking behavioral change.
Sustainability Provocateur and 2016 UN Champion of the Earth for Science and Innovation, Leyla Acaroglu, emphasized the importance of viewing humans as part of nature, and the need to reimagine different systems that work better for us and the environment.
Sean Southey, Chair of IUCN Commission on Education and Communication, reflected on the idea at the core of the #NatureForAll global movement, which states that “the more people experience and connect with, and share their love of nature, the more support there will be for its conservation.”
Elisabeth Lacoursiere, Director of Outreach & Marketing for Parks Canada, stressed the importance of raising awareness and making public spaces more accessible to enable people to become more connected with nature. In this effort, Parks Canada introduced a year-long free admission to Canada’s national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas, in the honor of the country’s 150th anniversary.
New Mediums and Narratives for Nature
Xin Liu, Interaction Researcher and Engineer at MIT Media Lab Fluid Interfaces, presented Tree, a full-body immersive virtual reality journey that transforms you into a Peruvian rainforest tree and experience its faith first hand.
Material Alchemist, Lauren Bowker, enticed the audience to think about the unseen interactions that we have with matter through materials by combining science with art, design and performance.
Darrell Hartman, Co-founder and Editor of new media magazine Jungles in Paris, echoed the importance of acknowledging unseen stories about individuals and groups and allowing the story to lead the way spiritually.
Music Producer and New Media Story Teller, Sol Guy shared his experience spending time with indigenous communities around the world and his role in being a conduit in sharing their story and the significance of evoking empathy to have a greater impact on people.
From new media story-telling techniques to virtual reality experiences, the Nature Summit showcased the vast opportunities for creating positive and inspiring narratives for nature to ensure a deeper connection and shared responsibility to protect it.