COP15 - Biodiversity Strategy Game Day



Montréal, December 2022 

As the eyes of the world were on the delegates at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) of the Parties, haggling over buzzwords, punctuation, and the idea of whether or not to include ‘reduce world hunger’ in their statements, our LEAF team was there to introduce the tools that could help turn goals and ambitions into workable strategies

Together with Pilot Projects and the Trinity Centres Foundation as part of the Partner Forest Program, LEAF organized a full day side event in the beautiful Center St. Jax, with the goal to illustrate the power and potential of the use of Strategy games in environmental policy development. Participants from different sectors played and tried to save tropical rainforests. 

As the timber companies were allocated their concessions, and the mining companies started their first surveys, it became quite clear that there is more than meets the bird-eye’s view of the landscape. With infrastructure being developed to access the most valuable trees, illegal logging and migration made it much harder to conduct business sustainably, if that were a player’s objective to begin with… As the rounds progressed, money was made, conflicts emerged between mining and timber companies, lawsuits were filed with the supreme court, and management plans for sustainable forest management were not followed through. Corruption lubricated the wheels of bureaucracy, collaborations emerged and protected areas were designated. With the European market demanding certification, did the players explore alternative markets, for a reduced price instead? What were the impacts of their management on the biodiversity indicators of tree cover and species distribution? How would one even get access to that information?

Emerged in a real-life case study, the players navigated a multi-stakeholder system and developed their strategies, not knowing what the next decade would bring. They had to navigate uncertainty and complexity, as they made their decisions. The landscape changed in front of their eyes. Could the players use their collective intelligence to bend the curve of deforestation? We could find out, if we would play just another round… 

In workshops like this, we let people explore new solutions and test the consequences of their strategies on the system’s future. 

LEAF aims to bring those who have power to alter the political framework to the table. Only then can strategies emerging from these workshops be turned into the policies that alter the dire trajectories of change we face today. It took the world four years of negotiations to update the 12-year-old biodiversity targets that had failed to have any meaningful impact. As we cannot wait another 12 years to see new goals and ambitions failing to be turned into viable strategies, yet again… 

Let us waste no more time, let us play.

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First round - large areas of intact forest
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Last round - heavily degraded forest

Story written by: Swen Bos, edited by: LEAF



Pilot Projects

Trinity Centres Foundation

For further information about this project, please contact us.

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