Image caption: Econario, the 5.3 metre moving artwork, created by Thijs Biersteker and driven by the Natural History Museum’s biodiversity data Credit: Thijs Biersteker

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Giant Robotic Plant ‘Econario’ to take centre stage at COP15 biodiversity summit – reacting daily to key decisions

A 5.3 metre moving artwork Econario will provide a daily forecast each day – a ‘biodiversity thermometer’ reacting to decisions taken at this major summit - flourishing or wilting in response to impact on biodiversity outcomes

·         The Natural History Museum’s scientific delegation will be advocating for better biodiversity data and metrics to accompany key commitments in order to properly track progress

·         The Museum’s world-leading biodiversity researchers Prof Andy Purvis and Dr Adriana De Palma, Museum Director Dr Doug Gurr and Director of Policy Emma Woods, together with artist Thijs Biersteker, will be taking part in events (and will be available for interviews)

·         The news section of the Museum’s website will host a live blog, reporting on the key developments from COP15 as they happen with additional deep dives into some of the big issues 


Ecological artist Thijs Biersteker has created a 5-metre-tall robotic plant, using biodiversity data from the Natural History Museum, to create a (literally) moving monument to the importance of the choices we are making now for the future of our planet. ‘Econario’ will take up residence in the main COP15 conference centre in Montreal, providing a powerful representation of how decisions made at the conference each day will impact the nature we will have left over the next generation.

The robotic plant moves like a small fragile seedling, growing or withering depending on the impact of decisions, as measured by the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII) – a metric produced by the Natural History Museum that measures how much of a region’s natural biodiversity still persists. The BII is a rigorous approach to estimating biodiversity loss that combines data on ecosystems and species populations with data on human-caused pressures like land use.  It is underpinned by the Museum’s PREDICTS database - a global database which now comprises 4.9 million data points, from over 46,000 sites in over 100 countries – a taxonomically representative set of 58,000 plant, animal and fungal species.

Thijs Biersteker, ecological artist says: “I always wanted to make an artwork that shows how woven our environmental choices of today are with that of our future. Using the BII data from the Natural History Museum, delegates to COP15 will see the results of their choices play out in front of them.”

Dr Adriana De Palma, biodiversity researcher at the Natural History Museum says: “This is such a powerful installation because it brings home the impact of the decisions being made right there and then in Montreal. Complex scientific data is made simple via this single seedling which has the ability to deliver heart-warming or heart-wrenching news.”

The artwork will be located in the main conference hall at Exhibition Hall 220 A/B, booth #805 in a 130m2 stand; it will be in continuous motion.


Museum scientists and Econario artist Thijs Biersteker will be taking part in two events about how to bring the pivotal but often complex scientific data about biodiversity to life in an engaging and meaningful way:

Econario: Bringing Data to Life in the Biodiversity Crisis

Nature Positive Pavilion – 14 December (9-10am EST)

Natural History Museum Director Doug Gurr will be chairing a panel discussion with artist Thijs Biersteker, Museum scientist Dr Adriana De Palma and climate and social justice changemaker Alexandra Sfez at the Nature Positive Pavilion within the conference centre.

Bringing Data to Life in the Biodiversity Crisis: a Discussion Between Artists and Scientists

The Biosphere/La Biosphère (Montreal museum dedicated to the environment) – 11 December (1-2pm EST)

Natural History Museum International Partnerships Manager Camilla Tham will chair a discussion between artist Thijs Biersteker and Museum biodiversity researchers Professor Andy Purvis and Dr Adriana De Palma about how to truly engage people in a meaningful way with the scientific evidence.

Natural History Museum advocating for better Biodiversity Indicators

The Natural History Museum’s delegation to COP15 will be advocating for scientifically rigorous, forward-looking and useable indicators as part of a globally agreed Monitoring Framework.

Prof Andy Purvis says: “Biodiversity measurement is complicated – encompassing species abundance, species diversity, ecosystem health and much more – yet it has never been more critical to be able to monitor change and predict future losses. Without biodiversity indicators that can tell us whether we’re on the right track, the failures of biodiversity policy to date are likely to play out again and the world will miss this major opportunity to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.”

The Natural History Museum’s Biodiversity Intactness Index data which is driving Econario has also been opened up through a digital tool which makes this data easy to find, understand, visualise, filter and download for anyone who wishes to use it. Responding to a need for rigorous, transparent and interpretive data, the Biodiversity Trends Explorer has been developed to help negotiators at COP15, as well as other policymakers and advisers, compare the state of biodiversity between countries. It also lets them track biodiversity changes since 2000 – globally, nationally and regionally – and compare the impacts of different socio-economic futures on nature in developed and developing countries over the coming decades.

Digital Reporting

The Museum will also be engaging its large, diverse and international audience with COP15 via its digital platforms. Cutting through all the noise, a live COP15 blog embedded in the Museum’s website Discover section will break down the key developments, helping the general public keep track of what’s happening in Montreal and why it matters. Whilst the team will be covering many of the key science and policy stories; they will also be exploring the more human side of the COP, including offering a platform to young changemakers and sharing the experiences of those on the front line of tackling the biodiversity crisis.

Website content will include in-depth features and explainers and guides to the key issues as well as profiles of Museum scientists who are on a mission to find solutions to the biodiversity crisis.


Notes to editors

More images and video are available here:

Natural History Media contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5654 / 07799690151 Email:

About The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is both a world-leading science research centre and the most-visited indoor attraction in the UK last year. With a vision of a future in which both people and the planet thrive, it is uniquely positioned to be a powerful champion for balancing humanity’s needs with those of the natural world.

It is custodian of one of the world’s most important scientific collections comprising over 80 million specimens accessed by researchers from all over the world both in person and via over 30 billion digital data downloads to date. The Museum’s 350 scientists are finding solutions to the planetary emergency from biodiversity loss through to the sustainable extraction of natural resources.

The Museum uses its global reach and influence to meet its mission to create advocates for the planet - to inform, inspire and empower everyone to make a difference for nature. We welcome millions of visitors through our doors each year, our website has had 17 million visits in the last year and our touring exhibitions have been seen by around 20 million people in the last 10 years.

About Thijs Biersteker and Woven Studio

Thijs Biersteker is one of the worlds leading artists in the field of combining art and climate science. With his team at Woven Studio he brings alive scientific data through art installations that provoke insight into the ecological challenges ahead. By collaborating with the world’s top scientists and institutions he can turn their climate data into art installations that make the overwhelming challenges ahead accessible, understandable and relatable. “If the research does not reach us, then how can the research teach us”.

Topics like climate change, air pollution, ocean plastic, and biodiversity loss are turned into immersive experiences that travel the world to create awareness.

He collaborates with scientists from UNESCO, Natural History Museum London, ESA, Stefano Mancuso and many others. He is a 3 x TED speaker and his work has been creating connections between science and art at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain Paris (FR), Today Art Museum (CN), Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (NL), Science Gallery/(IE), SXSW (USA), the Barbican centre (UK) and many more.

The work Econario and others are created in his Woven Studio which has become the frontier in the sustainable creation of hi-end artworks. Using emission calculations and recycled and organic materials, all documented in a Material Passport, the works are easy to be recycled when they are not needed to raise awareness anymore.

Credits Artwork:

‘Econario’ (2022)

Artist: Thijs Biersteker

Scientific lead: Prof Andy Purvis and Dr Adriana De Palma

Collaboration with Natural History Museum London, UNESCO

Studio Director: Sophie de Krom

Technical Engineer: Tom Bekkers

Technical Build: Bastiaan Kennedy, Sander van Gelder

Technical Development: Jochem Esser, JBS Technics

Frontend Developer: Bas van Oerle
Sustainably Created by: Woven studio

Thanks to: Eline Flick, Brad Irwin, Camilla Tham, Katy Payne, Manoel Giffoni Da Silveira Netto, Matthieu Guevel, LVMH, Alexandre Capelli, Dennis van der Sluijs