The associate dean of Niagara College’s School of Environmental and Horticulture Studies is packing his suitcase in preparation for his participation in a global meeting on the environment.
Al Unwin is also packing two hats for this international conference: one as associate dean and the other as chair of the International Society for Ecological Restoration (SER, based in Washington, D.C.) board of directors. Unwin will be speaking at the ‘13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity under the United Nations in mid-December in Cancun, Mexico.
This is not his first time at the podium under the United Nations’ umbrella: in preparation for COP 13, Unwin also was on the agenda at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal this spring. There, he presented to the UN Secretariat and member countries – some 196 in total – on the role and need for ecological restoration in meeting the numerous global targets that the UN has set in regard to biodiversity, climate change and the increases in desertification occurring around the world.
This conference last April – and similar ones around the world – were all in preparation for the COP 13. Through the team of worldwide scientists and practitioners of SER, Unwin has been instrumental in contributing to the focus of COP 13. While there is a stack of important briefs, papers and statements, COP 13 will be the stage on which SER will present its short term action plans towards the UN’s restoration of 15 per cent of degraded lands globally by 2020. SER will also be hosting various side events to promote the development and launching of international standards for ecological restoration efforts. In all, lofty but vital goals.
Many of the NC community will recall Unwin’s recent launch of the first college beekeeping program in Eastern Canada, which starts here at NC in January. Since COP will also be focusing on pollinator health and various action plans, no surprise Unwin is involved.
“As for the benefits of Niagara College,” he points out, “if these action plans and standards are adopted, this will ensure the demand for people in the area of ecosystem restoration remains high, and that benefits the grads of our fantastic program.”
Not to mention bees everywhere.