Meerdaalwoud©Lander Loeckx

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The milestone of Hilde Eggermont

She started her career as a ‘hardcore scientist’ investigating the relation between biodiversity and climate change in African lakes. About ten years ago, she moved to the interface between science and policy. Hilde Eggermont has been bridging those two worlds ever since. “We managed to put biodiversity on the political agenda.”

Wants to restore biodiversity by 2030

Hilde is currently the Director General of the Research Institute for Nature and Forest (INBO). Previously, she was a driving force behind Biodiversa+, the European Biodiversity Partnership that unites more than 80 ministries supporting biodiversity research and knowledge brokerage. Hilde: “We started rather small more than a decade ago, and we really had to prove ourselves in the European arena. But by joining forces across borders, we managed to put biodiversity at top of the political agenda.” For Hilde, this is why milestones matter. “They inspire, build public support for environmental conservation and create hope for change.”

“By joining forces, we managed to put biodiversity on the political agenda.”

Hilde also draws inspiration from a source outside of her field, though it is not entirely unrelated to it. “I’m a big fan of photography, and I’ve been following the work of the Flemish photographer Stephan Vanfleteren for years”, she explains. “At INBO, we collaborated with him on one of his latest projects, Nature Morte. It involved photographing August, the first male wolf in more than 100 years with offspring in Belgium. He was hit by a car and died. It was a wonderful experience for me to see my personal passion and my work come together.”

Hilde Eggermont

Uniting different worlds

Hilde stresses the importance of the interaction between biodiversity and climate change. “Policymakers are not sufficiently aware that many of the solutions to climate change can be found in nature. Moreover, it’s still hard to get climate and biodiversity scientists to work together. They don’t always see the link between both challenges, and they don’t always speak the same language. A conference could lower this threshold and could help to bridge both worlds.”

Approaching the same topic from multiple perspectives is generally very refreshing, according to Hilde. “We have to involve the business sector in nature conservation and get inspired. I’d to love to hear, for example, the story of the CEO of Patagonia, showing how making a profit doesn’t have to come at the Earth’s expense.”

“Policymakers are not sufficiently aware that many of the solutions to climate change can be found in nature.”

“For sure, conferences still have added value today”, Hilde continues. “Meeting each other in real life, networking, fostering social contact ... it’s more important than ever. And what happens in the conference corridors is often as important as what happens on stage.”

Benchmark for future conferences

In 2024, the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum will take place in the Flemish city of Bruges. As vice-president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Hilde strives to have sustainability at the heart of the event. “Flanders is at the forefront of organising sustainable conferences”, she says. “With the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum, we aim to integrate sustainability in every aspect of our event: catering, transportation, accommodation and conference equipment. We want to set the bar high, and set a benchmark for future conferences, within IUCN and beyond.”

“Flanders is at the forefront of organising sustainable conferences.”

Which milestone would Hilde like to see happening during her career? “I’d love to witness a drastic increase in biodiversity, obviously! Even if we missed out on previous biodiversity goals, I remain optimistic about the future. We can still get there if we deeply transform our society. I’m not just talking about small changes. It also implies changes in our relationship with nature, our economy, political structure and consumption behaviour. I believe such societal transformation can start turning the tide by 2030.”

Schouwburg Kortrijk - (c) Mark Depaepe

What’s your milestone?

Set it with a conference in Flanders.

Just like Hilde Eggermont, as a researcher, scientist, entrepreneur or policy maker, you want to set a milestone. A conference in Flanders can make an important contribution to your goal. It allows you to tap into the passion and expertise of insightful minds, bringing you another step closer to achieving your own milestone.

As a service of VISITFLANDERS Convention Bureau, our experts reflect together with you on the positive, long-term impact of your conference. Want to know more about this exclusive service, free of charge for your association? Click the button below.

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Hilde Eggermont
“We managed to put biodiversity on the political agenda.”