article / 7 March 2024

Here's what you missed at World Wildlife Day 2024

Catch up on the conservation tech discussions and events that happened during World Wildlife Day 2024! 

WILDLABS made a splash at World Wildlife Day 2024 events worldwide. This year’s forum theme was “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation.” As the global hub for conservation tech, WILDLABS was honoured to share insights on how technology is used in conservation and what gaps need addressing to maximise its impact. 

At the United Nations in New York, Stephanie O’Donnell spoke about scaling the interconnected landscape of conservation tech and emphasized investment in technology scalers and adopters, not just innovators. MIT professor and longtime WILDLABS collaborator Sara Beery gave an enlightening talk on the current state of AI in conservation tech, including challenges and constraints. Notably, regions with the most biodiversity have less access to AI and other conservation tools, which creates a gap in AI’s power in those regions since it relies on a high quantity of input data to be effective. Watch Steph and Sara’s talk here at 41:03.

The UN event showcased a diverse cross-section of conservation tech representation, including a musical performance by Ben Mirin, a keynote address from Peter Houlihan at XPrize, and a panel discussion with Dr. Krithi K. Karanth, Jorge Ahumada, Adams Cassinga, Sophie Maxwell, and CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero. A common thread connected these discussions: the importance of increasing accessibility, ensuring conservation tech benefits the local communities it serves, and how collaboration is at the heart of innovative solutions. 

Following the UN event, individual conservation practitioners, technologists, and organizations gathered at the Microsoft headquarters, hosted by Github, for a night of networking and celebrating innovation. Attendees could engage in interactive exploration, including a virtual scavenger hunt of illegal wildlife trade items with IFAW and WWF, underwater virtual reality tours with CI and Jackson Wild, AI-detected birdsong with Arbimon and Rainforest Connection, AI-powered camera traps with Sentinel and Conservation X Labs, and more.

At the Geneva celebration, Esther Githinji highlighted how two WILDLABS programmes, the #Tech4Wildlife Photo Challenge and the Women in Conservation Technology Programme, support the larger conservation tech community in different but equally important ways. The annual Photo Challenge is critical in engaging the worldwide conservation tech community and providing inspiration for meaningful storytelling that leads to deeper collaborations and unlocking resources to support the sector. Our Women In Conservation Technology Programme empowers East African women with the tools to build capacity at the local level and enter a sector from which they are historically underrepresented. Watch Esther’s talk here at 49:49.

A huge thank you to our co-partners CITES, Jackson Wild, US Fish and Wildlife, UNDP, IFAW, Microsoft, and Github for coalescing to produce an incredible day of discussions and knowledge sharing around this critical topic!

Rob Appleby
@Rob_Appleby  | He/him
Wild Spy
Whilst I love everything about WILDLABS and the conservation tech community I am mostly here for the badges!!
WILDLABS Research Participant
Variety Hour Regular
Commenter level 4
Conversation starter level 3

Amazing talks from both @StephODonnell and @sarabeery !!

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