Franz Essl: Everyone can contribute to change

Photo: Ursula Gerber

The ecologist Franz Essl (University of Vienna) was one of our Ball Ambassadors in 2020. In 2023, the Club of Education and Science Journalists presents him as Scientist of the Year. We are delighted and congratulate Franz Essl very warmly. Here is an excerpt from an interview that Katharina Kropshofer conducted with the professor at the Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research for Ball Magazine 2020. His message has lost none of its relevance or poignancy. Go to the full-length interview (in German) here.

Biodiversity matters to each and every one of us. Robert Watson, head of the Biodiversity Council IPBES said everyone can be part of the solution. Why?

Franz Essl: “With such large, diffuse problems as biodiversity loss and climate change, it’s easy to go into shock because you don’t know where to start. Individual changes can only be a small part of the solution; the systemic level must never be left out. And answers that point out what can be done individually often fall short. However, everyone can contribute to social awareness: one can ask what changes are needed and what choices make them possible. This ranges from political preference to supporting groups that promote it. I also think it makes sense to choose for yourself, for now, an issue that you find important and want to implement. This can be in the way of how and what food I buy, how I use land – if I own any – how I get my energy, and how I get around. It’s not a guide to action, but it’s the first step.”