The World Economic Forum is travelling to Ethiopia this week to bring together the voices of Africa and help transform the region. 32 Global Shapers from across the continent will be attending the event. This blog post is part of the One Year One Change campaign, which shares visions for a better Africa. What change do you want to see in Africa by 2013? #1y1c

By the early 20th century two opposing groups had become apparent within the environmental movement: conservationists and preservationists. Preservationists seek to protect nature by eliminating human impact while conservationists endorse the use of nature by regulating human impact. What do these terms mean to people today?

Wildlife is facing a number of challenges, particularly from a global economy driven by consumerism, urbanization and population growth. Today, undisturbed wilderness areas consist of less than one-sixth of the planet’s land surface; both land and marine ecosystems are threatened as a result of unsustainable hunting and shrinking habitats.

The economy demands a return on investment in the form of land, fresh water, energy resources and food to sustain an ever-growing population. Scientific evidence points to a decline in biodiversity. Sadly, Mother Nature’s failure to affect a return on her investment at the end of the day is attributed to humans.

International organizations lobbying for environmental sustainability are facing a tough challenge; the practical impact of their progress and diplomacy is tested on a daily basis. Yet, there is a strong increase in demand from the public sector to protect the environment against ecological degradation.

Is the solution found in marrying conservation and preservation in order to attract participation by communities on a local and global level?

In the words of Senegalese poet Baba Dioum: “In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand.  We will understand only what we are taught.”

Hanri Ehlers is co-founder and director of Kanabo Conservation Link. She is one of 32 Global Shapers attending the World Economic Forum on Africa in Addis Ababa.

Photo Credit: Simon Dures