How the private sector can contribute to IUCN’s 2012 Congress

02 September 2011 | Article

We pose three questions to Dr. Enrique J. Lahmann, Global Director of the IUCN Constituency Support Group as well as Director of the World Conservation Congress, about the 2012 IUCN World Congress and how the private sector can get involved.

Can you explain the significance of the IUCN Congress to be held in Jeju, Republic of Korea September 2012 to IUCN and the wider conservation community?

The IUCN Congress is the world’s largest and most important conservation event. It aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development.

The IUCN Congress is where the world comes together to make commitments, plans and actions to make nature stronger and drive real and lasting change on a global scale. It builds on concrete conservation results from all over the world, bringing together people and plans inside and outside IUCN to decide what the future of conservation should look like.

What is the theme and format of the 2012 IUCN Congress?

The theme of the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress theme is Nature+, capturing the importance of nature and its inextricable links to every aspect of our lives. Nature+ is about boosting the resilience of nature in a fast-changing and uncertain world—improving how quickly nature and people can adapt to change.

Human survival and prosperity depends on a strong and resilient natural infrastructure, one that responds and adapts effectively to change. Nature is inherently strong but centuries of unsustainable human activity have undermined our environment and nature’s ability to support our lives, our well-being and our economies.

The Congress is 10 days long, from 6 to 15 September 2012. The Congress will start with an open-to-the-public Forum where IUCN Members and partners will discuss cutting edge ideas and conservation practice. We expect some 500 different events taking place during the Forum part of the Congress. Among other things, the Forum will inform the IUCN Members’ Assembly - a unique global environmental parliament of governments and non-government organizations - so our Members can take well-grounded decisions.

How did business participate at the previous 2008 Congress in Barcelona and what are the opportunities for businesses to contribute to the IUCN Congress in Jeju?

The Barcelona Congress was the largest and most diverse event ever hosted by IUCN. It drew close to 7,000 participants from 179 different countries. Building on the experience of past Congresses, Barcelona provided fertile ground to test a number of innovative approaches and ideas. Pavilions were introduced to showcase the work of the Union while providing an open space for networking and partnership building. We will also have Pavilions in Jeju and they are likely to prove a popular option for corporate sponsors.

Among other things, Pavilions offered the opportunity to connect different stakeholders in an informal way. According to the Congress External Evaluation, this was much appreciated by all participants, including private sector representatives.
Business leaders also had the opportunity to participate in a number of formal workshops and in some of the Sustainability Dialogues. Building on the Sustainability Dialogues experience in Barcelona, in Jeju we will have five World Leaders´ Dialogues. These Dialogues will feature internationally recognized experts, politicians and CEOs in a series of public debates which will tackle the most strategic issues in conservation and sustainable development: nature + climate; nature + people; nature + economy; and nature + food security.

The 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress will provide ample opportunities to all sectors of society, private sector included, to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of conservation.

Finally, the “Call for Contributions” to participate in the Forum part of the World Conservation Congress, emphasizes that we want to “walk the talk” and show the world that IUCN really is a democratic Union. This is why partnerships will be required to organize any workshop at the Forum. Businesses will be able to participate in the Forum, but in the development and staging of proposals they will need to partner with an IUCN Member (or National/Regional Committee), an IUCN Commission member, or a Secretariat unit. This is what we call the “One Programme approach”. Through the Call for Contributions, Businesses will be able to host workshops, knowledge cafes, and offer capacity-building opportunities as part of the IUCN Conservation Campus.

About Dr Enrique Lahmann

Prior to joining IUCN Headquarters, Dr Lahmann was the Director of IUCN´s Regional Office for Mesoamerica (ORMA), based in San José, Costa Rica for 12 years. As such, he was responsible for the implementation of IUCN´s programme in the region.
Dr Lahmann joined IUCN in 1988 when he was appointed Regional Coordinator of the IUCN Wetlands Programme for Central America, the first regional thematic programme established by IUCN. He held this post for four years until he was appointed Regional Director. During his tenure as Wetlands Coordinator, Dr Lahmann was based in the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), an IUCN Member located in Turrialba, Costa Rica, where he was also an Associated Professor.