Curtain rises on largest environmental meeting of 2008

05 October 2008 | International news release

The IUCN World Conservation Congress kicks off today in Barcelona, Spain, with its mission of boosting action to conserve nature. Leading questions are how to meet the growing needs of populations and expanding markets without sacrificing nature, and how to get conservation messages to new audiences.

The event brings together 8,000 leaders from governments, business and non-governmental organizations for what is the premier summit on sustainable development in 2008. It focuses on three key challenges: how to tackle climate change, how to safeguard the diversity of life in all its forms, and how to make sound environmental management the foundation of healthy people and economies.

At the debating table will be royalty, Heads of State, Nobel Prize winners, world-renowned scientists and philanthropists, working with environmental, business and indigenous leaders. Over 10 days they will define the best ways to tackle environmental and development challenges, sharing pragmatic solutions to pressing issues such as over-fishing, food security and rising energy demand.

High-level speakers to address the opening ceremony include HRH the Prince of Asturias and HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand who hands over the Congress baton from Bangkok where the event was held in 2004, Spain’s Minister of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Elena Espinosa and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus.

The Congress is the world’s only democratic environmental forum where more than 1,000 IUCN members – both States and non-governmental organizations – define the conservation agenda for the years ahead. It is held against a backdrop of unprecedented loss of species and natural systems worldwide.

Delegates include prominent figures such as Prince Albert of Monaco and CNN founder Ted Turner. They will seek ways to halt this trend and move towards IUCN’s vision of “a just world that values and conserves nature”. One of the key news events will be the release of the 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species on Monday, October 6.