DIVERSITAS has successfully endured over two decades, during which time some participants have remained the same and some have changed. As an early career researcher entering the DIVERSITAS community for the first time, I wanted to reflect on the way in which young researchers might engage with a global environmental research network such as DIVERSITAS or Future Earth.
Exploring this question in a discussion with Science Committee member, Belinda Reyers, we noted that the ability to put yourself forward and establish your own networks as a young researcher is now a key characteristic of success in global environmental change research. Although social capabilities would never replace the need to do fundamentally good research, it certainly goes hand in hand with making valuable contributions in this new era of problem-focused science.
The formation of networks in research is central to developing links between generations of researchers, however participants also recognised that a network approach can occasionally have its drawbacks. In particular, when a research network is seeking to reach out to and include new disciplines or geographic regions, it can be difficult to know where to look, because networks often rely on known contacts and communities. However, balancing a network approach with occasional open calls for participation is likely to help address this concern.
The opportunity to participate in the DIVERSITAS celebrations in response to one of these open calls was significant for me. It provided an opportunity to discuss and reflect on the nature of biodiversity research and my work in this area in the future. Looking ahead, the global challenges we face are likely to be complex. Persisting in the work of Future Earth, the legacy of DIVERSITAS is likely to be in its people, its culture and the establishment of a shared desire to work together: a powerful network equipped and ready to address these environmental change issues.