2020 Events

3rd Annual Student Water Symposium

The Biodiversity Crisis: Water you going to do about it?

April 16th-17th, 2020


This year’s event will be held 100% online. More details to come about film screening and raffle options.

The United Nations declared 2011-2020 the Decade on Biodiversity to bring attention to the ongoing biodiversity crisis. According to a 2019 assessment of global diversity by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), there are close to 8 million species on Earth, 1 million of which are currently under severe threat of extinction (12.5%). In this final year of the decade on Biodiversity, it is clear we are struggling to preserve biodiversity on a global scale.  While 12.5% of species might not seem like a catastrophic loss, it is important to understand that all of the systems that support life on Earth are sensitive beyond comprehension. These systems have evolved over 4.5 billion years, creating a complex network in which each species plays a vital role in maintaining ecosystem function. The maintenance of ecosystem health is reliant on a high level of biodiversity; including genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity. Biodiversity acts as a buffer for ecosystem function and increases resilience to change; this change can come in many forms, including disturbances, invasive species, and shifts in climate patterns; that is why, in 2020, the 3rd Annual NAU Student Water Symposium is raising awareness on the biodiversity crisis to underscore the importance of preserving biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. According to the UN, 66% of marine environments have been significantly altered by human actions, and 60% of our fish stocks are fished at their maximum sustained levels with 33% being overharvested (as of 2015). An estimated 75% of our freshwater resources are dedicated to crop and livestock production, leaving little to maintain fragile freshwater ecosystems. An estimated 20 percent of the 10,000 known freshwater fish species have gone extinct or are under threat of extinction.  Reversing these effects will be no easy task, however, if we continue to move forward with a “business as usual” model, the systems that support us will surely collapse. This is not the problem of tomorrow’s generation, nor is it the fault of the generation that came before. The challenge we are facing falls on the shoulders of us all, for it will surely take a collective action to overcome. Please join us in raising awareness of the global biodiversity crisis.

By: Tyler Annetts

Raffle: Local businesses have generously donated items to help fund next years event. Tickets will be available for purchase for the duration of the symposium. Drawing held live Friday evening via zoom.

Check back in early April for details about the student presentations.