Half-Earth Day 2021

E.O. Wilson (1929–2021) and Sir David Attenborough met in a once-in-a-lifetime discussion on Half-Earth Day 2021, moderated by Sir Tim Smit at the Royal Geographical Society in London, October 22nd. The panel was supported by the James M. and Catherine D. Stone Distinguished Lectureship in Biodiversity, Mishcon de Reya, Eden Project, and Half-Earth Day 2021 presenting sponsor, CBRE.

Explore the sessions of Half-Earth Day 2021, from Science and Conservation, Education, and Business and Community tracks, to plenaries like How to Save the Natural World, a conversation with E.O. Wilson and Sir David Attenborough, moderated by Sir Tim Smit. The day’s presenters and panelists included distinguished scientists, conservationists, educators, and business leaders, including Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Razan Al Mubarak, and Johan Rockström, discussing the path to Half-Earth, and saving global biodiversity.


Opening Session “Courageous Optimism”

As we come together in common cause on Half-Earth Day, this session opens the day with a discussion about the courageous optimism it sometimes takes to forge a more enduring ethic to care for our planet.


  • Dr. Paula J. Ehrlich, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
  • Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Climate Activist, National Geographic Explorer

Plenary Session “How to Save the Natural World”

The evening plenary featured an Introduction by Walter Jetz and Razan Al Mubarak, keynote by E.O. Wilson: Ecosystems and the Harmony of Nature, followed by a conversation with Sir David Attenborough and E.O. Wilson, moderated by Sir Tim Smit. How to Save the Natural World is supported by the James M. and Catherine D. Stone Distinguished Lectureship in Biodiversity.

Featuring: Sir David Attenborough, E.O. Wilson, Sir Tim Smit
with introduction by Walter Jetz and Razan Al Mubarak

Plenary Session: “Area-based Conservation and Earth System with Johan Rockström”

This session provides an Earth system and Anthropocene perspective on why humanity needs to navigate world development within a Half-Earth perspective.

Featuring: Johan Rockström (keynote)

  • Walter Jetz, Yale University, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
  • Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge
  • Katrin Böehning-Gaese, Goethe University Frankfurt
  • Yadvinder Malhi, University of Oxford
  • Brooke Bateman, National Audubon Society



Evidence and Scientific Foundations

Biodiversity conservation critically depends on information about the existence and global distribution of species. This panel of distinguished scientists, moderated by Walter Jetz, addressed taxonomic and biogeographic foundations of conservation and highlighted new data and science advances.


  • Walter Jetz, Yale University, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
  • Stefan Pinkert, Yale University
  • Mark Costello, Nord University
  • Aurore Maureaud, Yale University


Perspectives and Approaches

Area-based conservation in a changing world presents unique and evolving challenges and opportunities. This session, featuring leading conservationists and scientists, moderated by Walter Jetz, discussed approaches to measuring and identifying biodiversity change and priority areas for conservation.


  • Alexandre Antonelli, Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
  • Andy Purvis, Natural History Museum, London
  • Nina Bhola, UNEP-WCMC
  • Katrin Böehning-Gaese, Goethe University Frankfurt

Science and Conservation Sessions

Solutions for Biodiversity and People

Effective biodiversity conservation relies on the support from local communities and the engagement of relevant stakeholders across scales. Moderated by Walter Jetz, this session discussed how scientific evidence can be used in practice to develop conservation solutions that successfully involve people.


  • Bill Sutherland, University of Cambridge
  • Matt Walpole, WWF
  • Callum Roberts, University of Exeter





Education and Technology Sessions

A Biodiverse Education: Outdoors, in School, and in the Community

In this session, educators and organizations focus on what’s working and share what’s promising to engage youth and diverse people in nature. The session, moderated by Dennis Liu, featured a variety of short talks from finding awe and wonder, to shaking up the standard school model, to getting outside to engage with nature in city, suburb, and country.


  • Dennis Liu, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation
  • Erica McAlister, Natural History Museum
  • Lee Davies, Kew Gardens
  • Alex Mills, Natural England
  • Sam Kendall, Eden Project
  • Matt Strevens, Trythall Primary School
  • John Patterson, St Vincent’s School
  • Mary Colwell
  • Dan Ryan, Eden Project
  • Richard Dunne, The Harmony Project
  • Matthew Shribman, AimHi Earth
  • Daniel Raven-Ellison, London National Park City
  • Floree Zama-Neagra, LNPC Ranger
  • Allia Fredericks, LNPC Ranger
  • Majdouline El Hichou, LNPC Ranger

Half-Earth Project Map Update

This session explored how with 3D mapping technology and high-resolution species data, people can connect local places with the global goal of Half-Earth. Speakers from Map of Life, Esri, and Vizzuality provide an update to the Half-Earth Project Map, moderated by Craig Mills.


  • Craig Mills, Vizzuality
  • Susana Romao, Vizzuality
  • Sean Breyer, Esri
  • Scott Rinnan, Yale University


Business and Community Sessions

Companies and Investors for a Half-Earth Future

Hosted and moderated by Keith Tuffley and Anita McBain of Citi, this panel featured distinguished business leaders sharing how companies and investors can come together to support the goal of Half-Earth.


  • Keith Tuffley, Citi
  • Anita McBain, Citi
  • Jeff Ubben, ValueAct Capital
  • Eva Karlsson, Houdini Sportswear
  • Emmanuel Faber

Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going?

This panel of influential conservationists, thinkers and designers, moderated by Jonathan Rose of the Garrison Institute, addressed these questions and more toward understanding the cultural, psychosocial, ethical and spiritual developments necessary for a more balanced future for our planet and the life it supports.


  • Jonathan F.P. Rose, the Garrison Institute
  • Kris Tompkins, Tompkins Conservation
  • Andrew Whalley, Grimshaw Architects
  • Nicholas Christakis, Yale University

Dream to Reality

Moderated by Delphine Mallert King, this dynamic session brought together members of the Long Run, who are protecting ecosystems, and scientists to reflect on the challenges of conservation and turning dreams into reality, including the milestones, stumbling blocks and role and limits of science during the journey.


  • Delphine Malleret King, The Long Run
  • Douglas Naggi, Cottar Safaris
  • Sarah Thompkins, Samara
  • Piotr Naskręcki, Gorongosa National Park
  • Norina Vincente, Gorongosa National Park
  • Ana Gledis, Gorongosa Nation
  • al Park
  • RicarVoicesdo Guta, Gorongosa National Park
  • Krithi Karanth, Centre for Wildlife Studies
  • Liliana Gutiérrez Mariscal, Mexican Initiative for Coast and Seas
  • Cher Chua-Lassalvy, Batu-Batu





Half-Earth Day 2021 and CBRE – The presenting sponsor of Half-Earth Day, CBRE, shares their proactive approach to recognizing the responsibility and opportunity to influence the way buildings are built, sourced, managed, occupied and sold.

Half-Earth Day 2021 and Audubon – Watch Dr. Elizabeth Gray, interim CEO of the National Audubon Society, shares her inspiration and what birds can tell us about a changing climate and world.

National Geographic Explorer – Rae Wynn-Grant – Watch Rae Wynn-Grant share her journey as a large carnivore ecologist.

National Geographic Explorer – Oliver Nsengimana – Watch Oliver Nsengimana share his motivation to protect the Gray-crowned crane of Rwanda.

A Message from E.O. Wilson – Watch the story of E.O. Wilson’s message upon the 2019 Great Walden BioBlitz, courtesy of the Redford Center.

Half-Earth Day 2021 and Esri – Watch Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant, David Gadsden and Ryan Perkl explore the inspiration behind 30×30, and community conservation, introduced by Dawn Wright, Chief Scientist at Esri.

Half-Earth Day 2021 and Gorongosa National Park – Scientists and technicians, several Half-Earth Scholars at the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory in Gorongosa National Park share their taxonomic contributions to better protect species in Mozambique.

My Garden of A Thousand Bees (Excerpt) – Watch an excerpt from My Garden of a Thousand Bees by filmmaker Martin Dohrn.

Martin Dohrn on Bees – Watch Martin Dohrn’s conversation about filming bees in the backyard with Dennis Liu of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, courtesy of HHMI Tangled Bank Pictures, PBS/Nature and Passion Pictures.

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