Alumnus fights for action at UN summit

3 September 2019

A University of Queensland alumnus will fight for biodiversity protection at this month’s United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

BirdLife International’s Dr Ashton Berry, will meet with international leaders, advocating for tougher climate change action and mitigation.

“I’m hoping to raise awareness of the importance of nature in achieving the goals of the Paris agreement,” Dr Berry said.  

“The science overwhelmingly shows that healthy intact ecosystems are estimated to provide 37 per cent of the CO₂ reduction needed to prevent global temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“It will be impossible to achieve the necessary reductions and avoid a climate or biodiversity crisis if we don’t include the protection of biodiversity and uphold the integrity of ecosystems in our climate action plans.”

Dr Berry, who completed a Bachelor of Applied Science (Natural Resources and Conservation) at UQ, said the world’s biodiversity is facing an existential threat.

“The protection and restoration of our planet’s biodiversity and ecosystems is crucial, not only for resolving the climate crisis and ensuring human survival, but to help form the critical foundations for reversing the planet’s biodiversity crisis,” he said.

“This is why it’s so important to ensure that increased protection of biodiversity and ecosystem integrity is included in climate actions by both governments and industry.”

For more than 21 years, Dr Berry has worked extensively with governments, the United Nations, not-for-profit community groups, universities and industry leaders.

He has played a leading role in forest ecosystem restoration, coastal management and climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives across the world.

Dr Berry said his time at UQ gave him the much needed ‘foot in the door’ to open up job, study and research opportunities in Australia and overseas.

“My studies provided the grounding and inspiration to recognise and critically consider issues in conservation and natural resource management.

“And my time there empowered me with the scientific knowledge and advanced problem solving skills needed to address these complex issues.

“These are critical, in-demand skills, vital for addressing the global crises we all face.

“I’m hoping we can combine our talents, vision and common humanity to better protect our precious ecosystems, for the sake of our planet and all of its inhabitants.”

Media: Ashton Berry, ashton.berry@birdlife.org; Dominic Jarvis, dominic.jarvis@uq.edu.au, +61 413 334 924.

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