By Codi Kozacek
Circle of Blue
HONOLULU — More than 10,000 environmental delegates, representatives, and participants from around the world descended on Hawaii last Thursday to kick off the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The quadrennial event, often called the Olympics of environmental conservation, has been both a celebration of recent successes and a grim recognition that much more is needed to prevent the world’s remaining natural splendor from fading into history.
It is the first time the United States has hosted the Congress in the IUCN’s 68-year history. Past gatherings fostered landmark international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. This year, the Congress comes on the heels of two of the most ambitious environmental roadmaps laid out in more than a decade: the Paris climate accord to cut carbon emissions and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Keynote speakers at the opening ceremony on Thursday, including U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Palau President Tommy Remengesau, called on attendees to turn those global guideposts into real action on the ground.
The environmental, economic, and social movements have to come together.” — Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Former Director General, IUCN…
…In the face of the urgency and severity of the global environmental crisis, leaders at the Congress acknowledged that success in the 21st century will require a major mindset change in the conservation sector. Traditionally, conservation has relied on a relatively narrow community of environmental advocates and scientists, taking a similarly insular approach to creating protected areas fenced off from the general public.
That methodology must evolve if the conservation movement hopes to achieve its goals. Speakers advocated for a much more inclusive community that embraces businesses and financial institutions, youth, and indigenous communities. Private finance, they said, is an absolute requirement for scaling up conservation projects to a level that can shield species from extinction, preserve ecosystem services like clean water, and make communities resilient to climate change. In her opening ceremony address, Secretary Jewell highlighted the need for a more strategic effort to protect landscapes as a whole, rather than preserving disconnected areas through “random acts of kindness”. And leaders emphasized that, on its own, raising awareness and setting aside protected areas for nature is no longer enough. Instead, the conservation ethic must infuse financial and political systems.
“Maybe environmentalism shouldn’t have a future on its own,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, former director general of the IUCN. “The environmental, economic, and social movements have to come together.”
For the rest of the excellent article see…