Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity striving to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. This mission is achieved through ground-breaking science, conservation projects in >50 countries and the work of our two Zoos: ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
For many years, we have accurately reported on the state of our planet and the pressures it faces through initiatives such as the Living Planet Report and our contributions to the IUCN Red List. We have contributed our fair share of bad news stories and added fuel to the doom and gloom pyre. While ZSL abides by its duty to monitor the state of the planet and to highlight emerging issues that threaten biodiversity, we also have a responsibility to tell the world what we can do about it. Our commitment is to ensure that, going forward, our messaging as an institution is consistent with this approach, presenting solutions and reminding that while we may yet have much work to do, without our ongoing efforts we would be considerably worse off.
Our initial involvement in the first Conservation Optimism Summit, while not quite as all-embracing as we’d hoped, has definitely shifted the narrative and thinking within ZSL to be more positive and solutions focused. The good news is that ZSL is also helping deliver many conservation solutions, ranging from saving species from extinction to reducing plastic waste in the ocean. The Conservation Optimism movement provides a valuable platform to share and scale up those solutions.
Finally, ZSL, via Steering Committee representative Heather Koldeweay, was a co-founding partner of Ocean Optimism in 2014, an initiative which has provided a powerful communication platform to share conservation solutions for marine conservation and is part of the growing international optimism ‘family’. We hope that through our ongoing support of this initiative, and other evolving initiatives such as the IUCN Green List of Species, we can work with other Conservation Optimism partners to promote a better understanding of the impact of conservation and what Society can do to help.