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How can we play effective defense to conserve as many sound environmental policies as possible from the past 50 years? The community is now spending much of its time and resources tackling this.
The second question is more fundamental: How did we end up in this position to begin with, and is there a way out? One pathway we can look to is the successful fight for marriage equality in the United States, which faced many of the same obstacles.
For many years, much of the polling on environmental issues focused on people’s willingness to care or act on a particular issue. Collecting that information is still important, but we want to know more about the underlying motivation that drives people to connect with and steward nature. Regardless of political affiliations, what about conservation can bring us together? Our desire is to start a new conversation about ocean protection that invites a broader swath of the public to participate in environmental decisions that impact their communities.
This moment in history—despite its challenges—has handed us a useful lesson: The conservation community needs to get back to basics:
- Taking the long view. To succeed, the environmental community must find a way to return to our roots as a bipartisan movement that enjoys broad support across the political spectrum.
- Broadening the base. There’s a path that taps into shared values across a broad political spectrum.
- Doing unto others. Data alone will not win hearts and minds, and we cannot restart a conversation unless we approach that dialogue with respect and empathy.
- Looking outside. We can learn from successes and failures of campaigns outside the environmental context.