29% of the 82,954 species which are listed on the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction. This figure was announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress which took place in Hawai’i from the 1st to the 10th of September 2016. If habitat loss and climate change partly explain the alarming extinction rate, disturbance, illegal taking and illegal killing now represent a significant and growing pressure on wild species of fauna and flora. IUCN is tackling this threat head-on, by procuring global commitments while supporting action on the ground.
While the UN Preparatory Committee met in New York to discuss a new instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, on the other side of the country, in Hawai'i, the global community grappled with the same fundamental issue: how to ensure conservation of the world’s oceans. The meeting in Hawai'i – the World Conservation Congress – brought together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples organizations, business and academia to discuss the future of conservation. There – in the middle of the Pacific, a few miles from the newly expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the world’s largest protected area – oceans took centre stage.
At the World Conservation Congress in early September, thousands gathered to discuss the future of conservation. These included scientists, explorers, economists, and activists, as well as judges and lawyers. Environmental law has proliferated in recent decades, in the form of new legislation, treaties, and landmark judicial decisions. But a growing recognition of the difficulties in implementation of these legal instruments, together with the apparent failure of traditional legal mechanisms to protect wildlife, prevent ecosystem destruction or halt climate change has left us asking: does law still have a place?