Conservation and Development in Galápagos, a Talk by Sophia Cooke

2nd September 2021 - 17:30 to 18:30

The Club is delighted to welcome Sophie Cooke, Research Associate for King’s College University of Cambridge, for a talk on her research and community projects in the Galápagos.

“Galápagos is a unique archipelago, a World Heritage Site and one of the most important conservation areas in the world. It is also home to >30,000 residents who, prior to Covid-19, supported an annual influx of >250,000 tourists. While tourism has generated employment in Galápagos and continental Ecuador, it has also driven human population growth, which in turn has led to an overwhelming of social services and the rapid spread of damaging invasive species.”

“On the islands, the towns are experiencing overcrowding, and local services including healthcare, education, water provision and waste management are all substandard. Agricultural production is low and uneconomic, resulting in high levels of food importation and poor management of the agricultural areas in the humid highlands, which, in turn, is driving further increases in invasive species. In addition, the marine ecosystem is extremely sensitive to the effects of climate change, as well as over-fishing and harmful fishing methods. The recent collapse of tourism due to Covid-19 has generated additional economic and social challenges, further highlighting the urgent need for a change in direction.”

“In 2018, Galápagos was formally chosen as the first province of Ecuador to work towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – which aim to improve the welfare of local communities and protect fragile environments simultaneously. My job is to help make this happen. I work with politicians, NGOs, scientists and the local community, in an effort to facilitate the joining of forces for this ambitious task. As part of this, I have launched a new tool to enable priority projects and policy changes to be identified in Galápagos and set up a new initiative, Co-Galápagos, which works to improve coordination and collaboration among researchers and increase opportunities for community engagement and involvement in the SDG Agenda.”

This Talk is a free event for all Club members and will take -place in The Centenary Room.  The Talk will be 45 minutes, with 15 minutes questions, and continued conversations in the bar.