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October 22, 2018
American Museum of Natural History, New York City


Half-Earth Day brings together people from around the world and across disciplines to share their unique perspective and thought leadership on how we can successfully ensure the health of our planet for future generations.

Inspired by renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson, Half-Earth is a call to conserve half the Earth’s land and sea in order to provide sufficient habitat to safeguard the bulk of biodiversity, including ourselves.

Half-Earth Day is an annual celebration and opportunity for scientists, conservationists, community representatives, decision-makers, and educators to share their progress towards biodiversity conservation and inspire fresh energy and engagement.

The focus of Half-Earth Day 2018 is the role that indigenous peoples and local communities can play in biodiversity conservation. The event will explore how indigenous peoples and local community’s visions and ongoing initiatives can inform conservation, and how collaboration with these communities is key to the success of conservation efforts such as Half-Earth.

The evening event will feature a conversation with E.O. Wilson and legendary recording artist Paul Simon  about Half-Earth and efforts to save the natural world, moderated by The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, in the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation Distinguished Lectureship in Biodiversity. 

Join us for an exciting day of programming at the American Museum of Natural History.



program highlights

Half-Earth: Learning from Local Stewards

2:00–4:30 pm
Kaufmann Theater
Open to the public, limited seating available here

The Half-Earth Day afternoon session, “Half-Earth: Learning from Local Stewards,” will feature two panels focusing on the following questions:

•  Panel 1: How are indigenous peoples and local communities leading the way in nature stewardship? This panel will feature representatives from indigenous groups and communities who are leading local conservation efforts.


Enric Sala, Pristine Seas, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Moderator
Laura Macamo, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Laboratory, Gorongosa Restoration Project, Mozambique
Chen Jin, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, China
Valérie Courtois, Indigenous Leadership Initiative, Canada

Neovitus Sianga, African People & Wildlife, Tanzania

Tom Lalampaa, Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya

Panel 2: How can these initiatives inform the Half-Earth vision? This panel will feature leaders from global conservation and multilateral organizations addressing how locally-driven conservation initiatives can inform the aspirations of the global conservation community.


Eleanor Sterling, American Museum of Natural History, Moderator
Christopher Filardi, Nia Tero
Martín von Hildebrand, GAIA Amazonas, Columbia
Walter Jetz, Half-Earth Project, Yale
Mirian Masaquiza, Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Ecuador
Laly Lichtenfeld, African People & Wildlife, Tanzania

Half-Earth: How to Save the Natural World
6:30–8:30 pm
LeFrak Theater
Open to the public, limited seating available here

To conclude Half-Earth Day, biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson and legendary recording artist Paul Simon will hold a lively discussion about Half-Earth and efforts to save the natural world, moderated by The New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, in the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation Distinguished Lectureship in Biodiversity. Join us for an illuminating conversation, with Q&A to follow.

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Valérie Courtois is a registered professional forester who specializes in Indigenous issues, forest ecology and ecosystem-based management and planning. She is a member of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, located on the shore of Peikuakami, or Lac-St-Jean. Valérie holds a degree in forestry sciences from the Université de Moncton. She has served as a forestry advisor for the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, forestry planner for the Innu Nation, and as a consultant in Aboriginal forestry, including certification and spatial planning, and caribou planning. In 2007, Valérie was awarded the James M. Kitz award from the Canadian Institute of Forestry for her early-career contributions to the forestry profession. She has been the Director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative since 2013. In addition to her work in conservation and planning, Valérie is an avid photographer. She is also on the Board of Directors of the Corporation du Mushuau–nipi, a non-profit that encourages cultural and professional exchanges on the George River. Valérie was also one of the inaugural recipients of the Labradorian of Distinction award in 2017, for her work caring for Labrador’s environment throughout her career. She lives in Happy Valley—Goose Bay, Labrador.



Walter Jetz is the Scientific Chair of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and leads the Half-Earth Project mapping initiative. He is a Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Adjunct Professor in the School of Forestry and the Environment at Yale University. Dr. Jetz is Director of the Yale Center for Biodiversity and Global Change, which links scientists, students and practitioners engaged in the environment, biological, informatics, policy or health aspects and implications of global biodiversity change. He also leads the Map of Life, which consolidates global biodiversity distribution data sources into a single asset to provide the best possible species range information and species lists for any geographic area worldwide. 

Dr. Jetz’ work addresses patterns and mechanisms of changing biodiversity distribution and the resulting implications on conservation and environmental management. His research combines remote sensing, phylogenetic, functional, and spatiotemporal biodiversity data with new modeling approaches and informatics tools. Dr. Jetz is particularly interested in how environmental, ecological, and macroevolutionary mechanisms combine to determine the co-occurrence of species and the structure of species assemblages. 

In addition to his work at Yale, Dr. Jetz chairs the IPBES Task Group on Biodiversity Indicators and is Co-Lead of the GEO BON Working Group on Species Distributions. Dr. Jetz was previously a professor of biological sciences at the University of California San Diego.

Dr. Jetz earned his MSc in Integrative Bioscience and DPhil in Zoology from the University of Oxford.




Chen Jin has more than 30 years of research experience in tropical China at Xishuangbanna, a biologically and culturally diverse area nearby the border to countries Laos and Myanmar. His research interests include the ecology and evolution of plant-animal interaction, environmental education and conservation biology, with over 70 papers published in international journals. Chen Jin has been the director of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden of Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2005, and the President of the Chinese Union of Botanical Gardens (CUBG) since its establishment in 2013, now with 110 member gardens in China. He served as the first President of the Asia-Pacific Chapter of Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC)(2006-2008), Councilor of ATBC (2005-2007), associate editor of several journals including Proceedings B. He was honored as one of the “Top 10 National Outstanding Science & Technology Workers” by the China Association for Science & Technology in 2010. Chen Jin received a bachelor degree on horticulture from Nanjing Agricultural University (1986) and a doctor degree on botany from Kunming Institute of Botany of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2003).



Dr. Laly Lichtenfeld believes in finding the balance for communities and nature. A long-time resident of Tanzania, Laly co-founded African People & Wildlife in 2005 to help rural communities conserve and benefit from their wildlife and natural resources. Laly specializes in human-wildlife conflict prevention, species conservation focusing on lions and other big cats, community empowerment and engagement in natural resource management, and the development of conservation incentives for rural people. As a female CEO in East African conservation, Laly is often one of few women at the senior leadership table, a responsibility she does not take lightly. In 2018, Laly became an invited member of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority Research Advisory Committee. Laly received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2005. She is an accomplished speaker, a Distinguished Alumni of the Yale Tropical Resources Institute, a National Geographic Explorer, and a recipient of the 2016 Lowell Thomas Award for Open Space Conservation from the historic Explorers Club.




Laura Macamo was born and raised in Maputo, Mozambique, one of the youngest daughters of seven children. Her father was the first of his mother’s sons to graduate University, and he always encouraged Laura and her siblings to pursue their dreams through Education. Science has always been Laura’s #1 passion, particularly the fields of Biology and Chemistry. She studied Applied Biology in Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, where she spent two semesters working as Genetics module monitor. After that experience, she decided she wanted to spend the rest of her life studying DNA. After college Laura studied microbiology and molecular biology lab practices at the National Health Institute. In 2017, Laura visited Gorongosa National Park for the first time for a Genetics Conservation seminar. Following the seminar, she trained as a lab manager at Instituto de Agronomia's Plant Biotechnology in Lisbon. Laura currently coordinates the MoBioGenLab (Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Genetics), the first Molecular Biology and Genetics lab inside a conservation park in Mozambique. “I’m always rewarded with a beautiful landscape and natural environment. This is an opportunity of giving back for free the knowledge I received for free.”



Mirian Masaquiza is from the Kichwa-Salasaka region of Ecuador. She has worked on three fronts: as an indigenous activist; as a staff member of the United Nations; and as a diplomat/advisor to the Government of Ecuador. Maria has worked for the United Nations since 2003. Most of her work has related to the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as a range of other issues including gender, cultural and education, climate change, inter-agency affairs, outreach, political analysis, and non-governmental organizations. Maria was instrumental in preparations for and organization of the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples; supported the negotiations for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007; assisted intergovernmental negotiations related to resolutions pertinent to indigenous peoples’ issues; drafted and edited reports, speeches, and other relevant information. Other roles include: member of the Cabinet of the President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly; advisor at the Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage of Ecuador; and diplomat of the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York City. Before taking on these many roles, Maria worked in her home country with indigenous peoples’ organizations to strengthen the participation of indigenous youth and women in various forums at both national and international levels.


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Thomas L. Friedman, an internationally known author and journalist, has won the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work at The New York Times. His foreign affairs column in The New York Times reports on US domestic politics and foreign policy, Middle East conflicts, international economics, environment, biodiversity and energy. For his coverage of the Middle East, Mr. Friedman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 and 1988 for international reporting. He was awarded the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary for “his clarity of vision…in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat.” In 2004, he was awarded the Overseas Press Club Award for lifetime achievement and the honorary title, Order of the British Empire (OBE), by Queen Elizabeth II. Friedman is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem, which won both the National Book and the Overseas Press Club Awards in 1989, a revised edition was released in December 2012. The Lexus and the Olive Tree, winner of the 2000 Overseas Press Club Award for best non-fiction book on foreign policy. Longitudes and Attitudes: Exploring the World After September 11, issued in 2002, consists of columns Friedman published about September 11. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century, issued in April 2005 and updated in 2006 and 2007, received the inaugural Goldman Sachs/Financial Times Business Book of the Year Award. In 2008 he brought out Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which was published in a revised edition a year later. His sixth book, That Used to Be Us: How American Fell Behind in the World We Invented and How We Can Come Back, co-written with Michael Mandelbaum, was released in 2011. His new book, Thank you For Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations 2.0, was updated and released in 2017. 



Edward Osborne Wilson is generally recognized as one of the leading scientists in the world. He is also recognized as one of the foremost naturalists in both science and literature, as well as synthesizer in works stretching from pure biology across to the social sciences and humanities. Wilson is acknowledged as the creator of two scientific disciplines (island biogeography and sociobiology), three unifying concepts for science and the humanities jointly (biophilia, biodiversity studies, and consilience), and one major technological advance in the study of global biodiversity (the Encyclopedia of Life). Among more than one hundred awards he has received worldwide are the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Crafoord Prize (equivalent of the Nobel, for ecology) of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the International Prize of Biology of Japan; and in letters, two Pulitzer Prizes in non-fiction, the Nonino and Serono Prizes of Italy and COSMOS Prize of Japan. For his work in conservation he has received the Gold Medal of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the Audubon Medal of the Audubon Society. He is currently Honorary Curator in Entomology and University Research Professor Emeritus at Harvard University, Chairman of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation Board of Advisors, and Chairman of the Half-Earth Council. 



With science at its core and our transcendent moral obligation to the rest of life at its heart, the Half-Earth Project is powering one of the grandest conservation efforts of our time, advancing the urgently needed research, leadership and knowledge necessary to achieve Half-Earth. The Half-Earth Project is an initiative of the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation. The E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation fosters a knowing stewardship of our world through biodiversity research and education initiatives that promote and inform worldwide preservation of our biological heritage. For more information, visit www.half-earthproject.org and www.eowilsonfoundation.org.


Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024–5192



The Lucerne Hotel
201 W 79th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 875-1000
BelleClaire Hotel
250 W 77th Street
New York, NY 10024
(212) 362-7700
The Mandarin Oriental
80 Columbus Cirle
New York, NY 10023
(212) 805-8800

All recommended hotels listed above are within walking distance of the American Museum of Natural History.


Video recording of both the afternoon and evening sessions will be available on this page following the event.
Livestream of the event will not be available.



Support for Half-Earth Day provided by E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation partner Burt’s Bees.

Additional support provided by




Questions about Half-Earth Day, please contact Kellie Laity, Communications and Development Coordinator, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, at (919) 613–8137 or klaity@eowilsonfoundation.org.