British Museum/Kew debates


  • The British Museum, London, UK
  • Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, UK


  • To explore links between plants and objects and wider current issues through landscapes.

Project details

Through its partnership with the British Museum, since 2008 Kew has been taking landscapes to central London and highlighting a range of threatened habitats to a wider audience. In 2009 Kew presented an ‘India Landscape’ on the forecourt of the Museum while in 2010 there has been a South African vista, show-casing the rare and rich Fynbos vegetation.

To further explore this shared interest, two high profile panel discussions have been organised with the support of the WCP, which have investigated the tensions between exploitation of landscapes for human benefit and the preservation of those same landscapes with a particular focus on approaches to the preservation and economic value of biodiversity.

In 2009 the WCP supported a debate between a distinguished panel, chaired by Sarah Mukherjee, and had Sir Nicholas Stern, Ramchandra Guha; Tamina Aman and Debal Deb discussing ‘Whose landscape is it anyway? Environment versus development in South Asia today’.

In September 2010, the international year of biodiversity, Andrew Marr chaired a panel consisting of Stella Simiyu, (BGCI Global Plant Conservation Strategy Officer, Kenya), Johan Eliasch, (Chairman and CEO of Head, Co-chair of Cool Earth and Government adviser on environmental issues), Jon Williams (Price Waterhouse Coopers representative on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) and Professor Monique Simmonds, (Deputy Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory, RBG Kew).

This partnership event offered an opportunity to highlight a major challenge currently facing the world. Biodiversity, which includes and supports human life, is under threat through overexploitation and environmental change. The vast majority of biodiversity hotspots form a girdle around the world and are predominantly in equatorial and sub-equatorial regions. Thus some of the world’s poorest nations are the custodians of the majority of the world’s plant species. We all benefit from, and rely on, these carbon sinks. This raises the question, who bankrolls biodiversity?

The 2010 debate at the British Museum: Conserving biodiversity. Whose money? Whose rules?