IUCN highlights how biodiversity and development are intimately linked during summit of French-speaking countries.

10 December 2010 | News story

IUCN made sure that biodiversity was high on the agenda when 70 heads of State and 3,000 delegates gathered for the 13th Francophonie Summit in Montreux, Switzerland earlier this year.

The summit, which took place in October to coincide with the Convention on Biological Diversity conference in Japan, was organized by the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF). OIF unites the world’s French-speaking countries and was created in a postcolonial era to promote universal values of solidarity, peace and human rights.

The ‘Francophonie’ covers more than 870 million people living in 70 countries and harbours an exceptional diversity of economic, social, cultural and biological backgrounds. French speaking countries include a wide range of natural habitats—coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, towering equatorial rainforests in Asia and Africa, tropical arid deserts and polar ice caps.

During the summit, an IUCN delegation highlighted its support for the Francophonie’s efforts towards preserving biological and cultural diversity. In a context of globalization of the threats to fauna and flora and where climate change and invasive alien species are creating ecological disruption that can affect both the natural and social balance, IUCN reaffirmed its mission of conserving biodiversity and improving human well-being across linguistic borders. It also assured the meeting of its continued role in promoting the message of the great richness but also fragility of the cultures and biodiversity of the Francophonie.

IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre was speaking alongside Swiss Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey in a nature information centre located at the heart of the ‘Francophonie Village.’ IUCN’s participation in the summit was led by Bertrand de Montmollin, President of the Swiss Committee for IUCN.

Throughout the summit, key challenges such as achieving food security in the face of climate change, generating greater respect for the objectives of the UN Millennium Development Goals and safeguarding the services provided by the planet’s ecosystems were discussed. The summit is seen as a platform for information exchange, building contacts, influence and communication. The importance of building bridges between world experts in reinforcing French as a common scientific language was underlined.

“The International Organization of the Francophonie in an effective intergovernmental and global mechanism and IUCN will continue to bring its expertise and its mediation to reinforce the efforts of French-speaking countries towards the conservation of biodiversity,” said Marton-Lefèvre.

The work of IUCN’s Marine and Polar Programme and IUCN’s French committee was showcased along with the Union’s conservation work in the coastal and marine areas of West and Central Africa.

Two new publications were launched at the event: the Atlas of the biodiversity of the French-speaking countries and a special issue of the magazine Terre Sauvage on the biological and cultural diversity of the Francophonie.

The next Francophonie Summit will take place in Kinshasa in 2012.

For more information about IUCN’s involvement please contact:

Arnaud Collin, Director General’s Office : arnaud.collin@iucn.org