We have a problem in conservation biology (ok, to be fair, we have a lot of problems, but this is one of them). The biggest environmental challenges–climate change, ocean acidification, over-fishing, agricultural runoff, species invasion, and myriad other emergent issues–are global challenges. They respect no borders and require a cohesive, multinational response. Researchers, stakeholders, and conservation managers, on the other hand, are increasingly impeded in their work by more and more restrictive barriers to travel.
This isn’t new. The Global South has often been excluded from major international conferences hosted in European and American cities, which are expensive and hard to get to. Onerous visa restrictions from and to a multitude of countries have been in place for decades, but the events of this week have made it clear that scientific societies need to plan for and provide alternatives to a membership that may not be able to travel to a conference yet still need to participate.