Planet at the crossroads – under this topic, IUCN has called its members to its World Conservation Congress 2016. It is held in Hawaii from September 1st to 10th. Mlup Baitong is represented by our Executive Director Mr. Va Moeurn and Deputy Executive Director Mr. Om Sophana.
Planet at the crossroads
The World Conservation Congress (WCC) is held every four years by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the world’s oldest and largest environmental network. Both member organisations and a broad range of experts and speakers attend the event. Mlup Baitong has become IUCN’s first Cambodian member in 2004 and has been an active participant ever since. This year’s topic is “planet at the crossroads”, playing to the urgency of change that is needed to balance socioeconomic development and aspirations of the world’s population on the one hand with environmental sustainability and protection of the planet’s biodiversity on the other.
Attendants share ideas and build collaborations
During ten days in September, around 7,000 people share their experiences, discuss ideas, showcase initiatives and forge collaborations in several forums. The 1,300 members vote on motions, elect key positions and decide on the network’s strategic direction for the coming four years. This year’s discussion topics include e.g. utilizing private finance for public benefit, empowering the next generations, ending wildlife trafficking, and protecting the oceans. Speakers represent international organizations and conventions such as UNESCO, EU, Ramsar Convention, governments, conservation, media, academia, business, sports, arts and faith-based organisations such as Conservation International, WWF International, University of Oxford, The New York Times and The National Geographic Society, as well as foundations including KfW Development Bank and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.
“Nature is not just for human needs, but for nature itself.” Speaker Carla Colaljo, Law Student, University of Cebu – College of Law, Philippines
Human well-being and nature conservation
While global wealth and economic growth have contributed to significant improvements in human well-being over the past decade, much of this progress is happening at the expense of ecological integrity. The past years have seen an increasing understanding around the globe that urgent and large-scale change is needed in human production and consumption patterns in order to safeguard and reinforce natural ecosystems which sustain human well-being and progress. “Nature will most likely go on, so the relevant question is: to what extent will healthy, prosperous and secure societies continue to be part of the story, and how much of the greater community of life will persist?”.
Shaping the future of the planet
In answering this question, two opposing narratives exist, one supporting a pessimistic view proclaiming that it is too late to avoid catastrophe, the other an optimistic view believing in the resilience of humanity and nature, being indifferent and in denial. IUCN stands for an alternative approach where nature conservation and human progress are not mutually exclusive. This year’s WCC serves as a platform to discuss the political, economic, cultural and technological choices which advance general welfare while protecting and enhancing natural assets. At the IUCN Congress, governments, NGOs, conservationists and scientists, consumers and producers, urban planners, entrepreneurs, grassroots and indigenous organisations, and financial backers are discussing and developing new partnerships across the planet.
IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest environmental membership union composed of both governments and civil society organisations. Established in 1948, it now brings together 1,300 member organisations and 16,000 experts. Member organisations vote on resolutions which drive the global conservation agenda during the IUCN WCC which is held every four years. Major international environmental agreements developed by IUCN congresses include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the World Heritage Convention, and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands.
Text: Daniela Fendt, Mlup Baitong