#TEDxCapeTownSalon Speaker: Wendy Foden

Wendy Foden, TEDxCapeTownSalon

Professor Wendy Foden is a conservation biologist who focuses on providing scientifically robust and pragmatic support for biodiversity conservation in the face of climate change. She is an Associate Professor at the University of Stellenbosch and chairs the IUCN SSC Climate Change Specialist Group. (Source: Conservation Symposium)

Nature, people and science are what gets Dr. Foden out of bed in the morning. She says: “I love nature! I also love people and I love science. I count myself incredibly lucky to have the chance to work with all three to bring about changes that make the world a better place.”

Wild spaces (the wilder the better) innovative thinking, and visionary leadership are what inspires this biologist. But Dr. Foden adds that she’s also recently become very aware of how important a sense of community is in providing the foundation for her happiness, as well as for stimulating innovation and ideas.

We asked her what motivated her to participate in our upcoming TEDxCapeTownSalon event as a speaker. Her response was a little more descriptive than we expected, she said: “When I picture myself standing on that stage, this sharp ache turns up in my chest as if the concept of the talk is bursting out of me like in some alien movie.” That, and “I’m thrilled to be interacting with the other speakers and the TEDx team - what an honour!”

With the event being only a few weeks she says she’s feeling nervous, excited and exhilarated. “ still can't really believe it's happening!” she adds.

I hope this opportunity gives me a “chance to share an idea I think the world needs to hear. I want to use my passion to inspire people to see the world a little differently.

Time now for a few “off the bat” questions to be fired:

If you had a superpower what would it be?

Being able to make people forget specific things, particularly when they help long-entrenched beliefs. That moment of confusion would bring, firstly humility, and then the space to explore things from many different perspectives. It's much harder to do 'us-vs.-them' when you've really explored and understood other perspectives.

If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

A bumble bee in spring - pure sensory bliss on the grandest scale!

If you could time travel, where would you go?

I'd go back to December 2000 when the US Supreme Court ruled against a Florida election vote recount, which resulted in Al Gore being defeated by George Bush. If just one of the five Supreme Court judges could have been persuaded to change his or her mind, it would have changed the course of climate change and the world.

Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Julien, King of the Lemurs in Madagascar (the movie).

If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?

David Attenborough.