IUCN UK Conference overcomes volcanic consequences

19 May 2010 | News story

At the foot of Edinburgh's own, thankfully 'extinct', volcano, the IUCN UK Conference "Nature - What's in it For Me?" was held at Our Dynamic Earth over the two days 19th and 20th April 2010 and was attended by over 100 participants on each day.

The conference was preceded by a well-attended conference reception provided by the City of Edinburgh in the European Room of the City Chambers, hosted by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). Speeches were given by the Lord Provost Rt.Hon. George Grubb, RZSS Chief Executive David Windmill and IUCN Vice-President Javed Jabbar and conference delegates warmly welcomed.

Several international and UK speakers and delegates were unfortunately prevented from attending the conference owing to the interrupted air travel service as a consequence of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. However, both IUCN Director-General Julia Marton-Lefevre and IUCN Pan-European Regional Director (a.i.) Hans Friederich were able to give their live presentations using internet technology. Some Members of the Global Steering Group of the IUCN Commission on Education and Communication who were meeting in Aviemore, Scotland, prevented from leaving by the volcanic ash plume, were instead able to take part in the conference events.

These events included a conference dinner at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh where IUCN UK-backed 2020 Vision  was launched by Pete Cairns and 17 other top UK nature photographers. The entertaining after-dinner speech was provided by IUCN supporter and sustainable furniture producer Kinnarps (UK) Ltd. in the form of Regional Business Manager for Northern UK, Ray Phelan.

In addition to the presentations from IUCN senior staff, the conference attracted a wide range of speakers including the Scottish Minister of Environment Roseanna Cunningham, Scottish Government Director General Environment Paul Gray, Director General The Forestry Commission Tim Rollinson and the Chief Executives of three statutory conservation agencies, Helen Phillips for Natural England, Ian Jardine for Scottish Natural Heritage and Roger Thomas for the Countryside Council for Wales. It was reported that these three CEOs shared a platform for the very first time.

The purpose of the conference was to explore the theme of 'ecosystem management for human well-being', one of the five themes of the IUCN Global Programme Securing a Sustainable Future and to identify current UK good practice and gaps in knowledge and delivery. In addition to presentations from 25 speakers, 5 workshops took place, led by IUCN Commission Members. These covered the topics of education and communication, ecosystem management, species survival, protected areas and environmental, economic and social policy, in relation to the overall theme.

The conference report  is now available.