Competing for a healthier world

How awesome would it be if everyone treated conservation like a competition? The competitors are humans and the stadium is planet earth.

On a personal level, an individual wins points for using reusable coffee mugs, biking to work and advocating for species at risk.

On an international level, countries have teams composed of scientists, youth, elders, business people, industry leaders and government. Points are only earned by having the most renewable energy, largest protected areas or least endangered species. Traditional status rankings like highest GDP or most Olympic gold medals don’t count in this global game.

The US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, got me thinking about the topic friendly “competitive” conservation during her speech at the Opening Ceremony for the IUCN World Conservation Congress today. Among other inspiring comments, she proudly proclaimed that the United States is now home to the world’s largest marine protected area, Papahānaumokuākea. Then, in a sportsman-like fashion she said that she doesn’t want America to have the largest marine protected area for long! She’s actually encouraging other countries to steal the title…

Jewell with encouraging words for young conservationists (Photo-

I think Canada has what it takes to claim the next title for largest marine protected area. Our country does have the longest coastline at about 244,781 kilometers, so why can’t we have the largest marine protected area too?

I’d like to propose a few of my favorite Canadian waterways to take the title of largest MPA:

What about the Strait of Georgia, which is home to kelp forests, otters and orcas?

River otters in the Georgia Strait (Credit -Carl Olsen)

Or maybe the Hudson’s Bay to protect those beautiful beluga whales?

Could this beluga have a home in protected waters?

Landcaster Sound could be a fitting waterway too. Narwhals and polar bears need the largest protected area they can get!

Narwhals in the icy waters of the Arctic

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we need to make environmental accomplishments something to be proud of. We should celebrate our conservation successes as much as winning the Stanley Cup! Conservationists are athletes competing to protect the environment before it’s too late. If there is worldwide pressure to create ambitious conservation goals, we will all be driven to do more. The only difference in competing to do more for the planet is that there are no losers. We will all win the prize of a healthier world.

What marine area do you want Team Conservation Canada to fight for next?


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