2020 Program

Watch videos from our Virtual 2020 Earth Day Conference.

Plenary Sessions

Pre-Recorded Sessions

Imagining Our Collective Future: What Kind of World Do We Want to Craft?

As we celebrate the past 50 years of the environmental movement, what choices can we make that will improve the world over the next five decades? Join us as we hear from leaders that will discuss the importance of social justice, technology, and intentionality in crafting our shared future.

  • Eduardo Brondizio, distinguished professor, anthropology, and director, Center for the Analysis of Social-Ecological Landscapes, Indiana University Bloomington; co-chair, Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Inter-Governmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
  • Lucas Joppa, chief sustainability officer, Microsoft
  • Mariama White-Hammond, pastor of ecological justice, New Roots AME Church

Earth Day@50: An Enduring Vision that Connects Wisconsin to the World

On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans gathered to observe the very first Earth Day. What began as a grassroots effort led by Wisconsin Governor, United States Senator, and Nelson Institute namesake, Gaylord Nelson, has now become a global day of environmental action. Join Nelson’s daughter, Tia Nelson, and Adam Rome, author of The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made for the First Green Generation, for a look at how Earth Day has impacted our culture and what the success of this initiative can teach us as we address global climate change and growing environmental challenges.

  • Tia Nelson, managing director – climate, The Outrider Foundation
  • Adam Rome, professor, environment and sustainability, University at Buffalo; author, The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation

Presented in partnership with the Outrider Foundation. Check out Outrider’s Earth Day film, “When the Earth Moves.”

Live Session
(Limited to 1,000 attendees)

Transmission and Transitions: How Climate Change Is Impacting Human and Planetary Health

Human health is intrinsically linked to the health of the planet. The emergence of COVID-19 represents the inevitable outcome of human intrusion into natural systems. Rooted in wildlife trade and degradation of wildlife habitats, as well as deforestation and climate change, without a reversal in the current overexploitation of natural resources, the next pandemic is inevitable. We invite you to join us for a live session that will explore the interdependencies between the health of the planet and the health of humans.

  • Jonathan Patz, professor and John P. Holton chair in Health and the Environment; director, Global Health Institute, UW-Madison

Breakout Sessions

These pre-recorded sessions can be viewed anytime during the virtual conference. Each session will feature introductory remarks followed by a series of short videos, and will include a discussion board for participants to share comments and questions about the topics.

Cutting-Edge Conservation

From gene and sound mapping to artificial intelligence, this session will explore innovative ecological engineering and showcase why technology holds the key to preserving habitats and wildlife.

  • Carol Barford, director and associate scientist, Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison
  • Zuzana Burivalova, assistant professor, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, UW-Madison
  • Francisco Pelegri, professor, Department of Genetics, UW-Madison
  • Zhou Zhang, assistant professor, Biological Systems Engineering, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UW-Madison

Food and Justice for All: The Environmental and Societal Challenges of Food Justice

As climate change impacts communities across the globe, food justice, or a community’s right to grow, sell, and eat healthy food remains a concern. This session will explore this topic and the ways in which environmental and societal challenges impact food justice.

  • Monica White, associate professor of environmental justice, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison
  • Jennifer Gaddis, assistant professor, Department of Civil Society and Community Studies, UW-Madison
  • Mariaelena Huambachano, assistant professor, Department of Civil Society and Community Studies, UW-Madison; 4W Director of Biodiversity Protection and Indigeneity
  • Sarah Rios, assistant professor, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, UW-Madison

Power to the People: Exploring the Importance of Energy Justice

From solar and wind to geothermal and hydropower, neighborhoods are increasingly investing in clean energy technologies. While there are many positive aspects to clean energy, there are also some challenges to consider, including how people from all economic backgrounds can benefit from clean technology. Join us for a discussion on energy justice and learn why energy solutions rooted in democratic, equitable processes are key to the future of sustainability.

Sustainable Wildlife Management

From traditional ecological knowledge and hunting to population dynamics and competition, this session will explore the various methods for sustainable wildlife management. Both researchers and practitioners will share how their methods contribute to a more sustainable future and how humans and wildlife can coexist in a mutually beneficial way.

  • Tim Van Deelen, Beers-Bascom Professor in Conservation, Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology; chair, Nelson Institute Environmental Conservation Professional Master’s Program, UW-Madison
  • Emily Iehl, R3 coordinator, Bureau of Law Enforcement, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
  • Anne Lacy, crane research coordinator, International Crane Foundation
  • Michael Waasegiizhig Price, traditional ecological knowledge specialist, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission

WI Ideas: A Creative Look at Graduate Research in the Nelson Institute

Explore the myriad types of research being conducted by graduate students in the Nelson Institute and enjoy presentations on a wide range of topics.

  • Colleen Henegan, MS student, Environment and Resources, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison; “But Those are Real bugs! Perceptions of Farmed Edible Insects Among Sellers, Consumers, and Non-Consumers in Lusaka, Zambia”
  • Hugh Roland, PhD student, Environment and Resources, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison; Conceptualizing and measuring flood-related vulnerability in the Peruvian Amazon
  • Water Resources Management Cohort 2020, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison; A Blueprint for Salt Sustainability of UW-Madison’s Campus

Business Workshop on Carbon: Tactics and Tools for Carbon Strategy and Management

The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council and Evolution Marketing have teamed up to present a four-part series on carbon management and strategies. During this series participants will gain perspective on why carbon is important, the key terms associated with carbon management, and understand what tools and tactics businesses are using to manage, reduce, and offset their carbon footprints. Participants will also hear from industry pioneers leading on innovation and mitigation.

Pre-Recorded Sessions

Defining Carbon Jargon

Explore the key terms and resources you need to know when beginning and advancing in your carbon journey.

Carbon Reduction and Management Tools

Learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint starting with efficiency. This session will also talk about market tools available to support carbon tracking and overall sustainability programming for your business.

  • Kathy Kuntz, energy and climate change specialist, Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change
  • Lisa Geason-Bauer, president, Evolution Marketing
  • Jessy Servi Ortiz, managing director, Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Live Sessions
(Limited to 1,000 attendees)

Strategies to Address Carbon in Your Business

This session will give you an overview of the journey that a business goes on to measure and address carbon, unpack the business case for climate, dive into carbon offset strategies, and explore how to communicate your strategy.

  • Melissa Vernon, director of client engagement, Natural Capital Partners
  • Kathy Kuntz, energy and climate change specialist, Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change
  • Lisa Geason-Bauer, president, Evolution Marketing
  • Jessy Servi Ortiz, managing director, Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council

Innovation and Climate Leadership by Business

Businesses today are leading in actions to address climate and carbon concerns in ways that improve environmental performance, strengthen their business, and meet the expectations of the communities in which they operate and serve. In this session you will hear from two pioneering companies setting precedents for carbon actions and strategies taken globally.