Science for Nature and People (SNAP) announces the selection of six new Working Groups that will bring science to solving some of the world’s biggest challenges involving nature and human well-being — from urban water security to hydraulic fracturing’s impact on water quality, from the sustainable management of fish stocks to feeding 9 billion people without destroying the planet.
SNAP also announces its 2014 Request for Proposals (RFP) for additional working groups to be chosen in July. Applications are now being accepted through May 20, 2014.
SNAP — a scientific collaboration among The Nature Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Synthesis and Analysis (NCEAS) — is developing approaches to how protecting nature can help secure food, energy and water and enhance the quality of life for all humankind, especially the planets poorest and most marginalized citizens.
The Six New SNAP Working Groups
The six new working groups are:
Overfishing threatens the health of many of the world’s fish stocks — and the millions who rely on fish for their livelihood and animal protein. But we lack regular assessment data for more than 90% of Earth’s fisheries…and reliably assessed fisheries tend to be better managed and thus less overfished. This Working Group will explore how new, inexpensive approaches to assess such data-limited fisheries could be implemented across the globe.
Shale energy development — made possible by the new technologies of horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing — is helping meet increasing global demand for energy and providing economic benefits. But hydraulic fracturing also uses large quantities of water and produces toxic chemicals. The aim of this Working Group is to use science to help predict and avoid conflicts between shale energy development and the need for clean safe waters for people and natural systems.
Urban Water Security: Prioritizing Investments in Nature
Water stress is an increasing global problem, with as much as 30% of the world’s population facing water shortages on a regular basis. Water funds have created an innovative mechanism to mobilize and scale up investment in natural capital to meet cities’ growing water security needs, especially in Latin America. This Working Group will develop and demonstrate a decision-oriented rapid assessment methodology to identify the most promising Latin American cities for water funds based on science.
Agriculture: Smart Planning and Sustainable Intensification
Though small farmers dominate agriculture in developing countries, commercial farming is now poised to move into infrastructure “corridors” in these countries. Conservation can use these proposals as an opportunity to demonstrate to policymakers, planners and potential investors what sustainable ag intensification might look like on the ground, with better market access improving agricultural livelihoods while good planning and responsible investment maintains the ecosystem services provided by healthy soils, water and natural habitat. This Working Group will address smart planning and sustainable agricultural intensification in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, with implications for development corridors throughout the world.
Increasing populations and economic development along coasts around the globe are leading to growing pressures on fisheries and other marine resources. To date, marine conservation has focused almost exclusively on reducing overfishing — despite the harmful impacts on marine ecosystems from terrestrial activities like farming and logging — because of a lack of data and models linking terrestrial and marine ecosystems. This working group will address these information gaps, allowing conservationists to better address the impact land-use changes have on fisheries.
Making Ecosystems Count in the Sustainable Development Goals
Providing for a growing and increasingly wealthy global population while protecting the environment calls for a dramatic paradigm shift in how we approach development. Working closely with government ministries of the Volta and Nile Basins, this Working Group will organize a series of four workshops aimed at developing agriculture, ecosystem and natural-resource based indicators for planning and monitoring country-scale progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The indicators will be grounded in ecosystem sciences, include novel evaluation measures for natural capital and ecosystem services, and have practical relevance to policy makers.
‘Addressing the Biggest Issues Conservation and Human Development Face’
The six new Working Groups join SNAP’s inaugural Working Groups — Coastal Defenses and Western Amazonia — to form an broad-ranging roster of scientific inquiries into global problems at the nexus of nature and human well-being.
“With these new Working Groups, SNAP takes a huge step toward becoming the facility for addressing the biggest issues conservation and human development face today,” says Peter Kareiva, SNAP’s acting director. “Each of these Groups brings together scientists, policymakers and practitioners in a space dedicated to creating innovative solutions that will work in the real world–and that the real world will adopt.”
SNAP’s goal and design is to deliver rapid results that will make a real-world difference:
- It gathers specialists from a broad range of specialties — ecology to engineering, hydrology to human well-being — to collaborate and produce knowledge that is science-based and practical, on big-picture inquiries such as where natural habitats can defend coastal communities from the effects of storms.
- Its Working Groups include not just scientists but policymakers, funders and field practitioners — to ensure that its findings are of maximum utility.
- And SNAP Working Groups will include from the start key institutions ready to use the knowledge the Working Groups produce.
SNAP now encourages scientists, policymakers and practitioners to submit proposals for new Working Groups to the 2014 SNAP Call for Proposals. We seek proposals that help answer two overarching questions:
1. How can conservation actions benefit a critical mass of people today while addressing long-term ecological sustainability?
2. How can economic development be achieved without irreversible or severe environmental damage?