2009: A crucial year for a sustainable world

Year-end message from IUCN’s Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre

Julia Marton-Lefèvre

2008 is ending on a challenging note for all of us. The economic crisis is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide; insecurity and conflict are still daily realities in many parts of our world, and pressing environmental issues are not being addressed with the urgency they deserve. If we are to turn things around and see urgently needed changes in our ‘planet in peril’, 2009 will have to be different.

Thankfully, there are some reasons to hope. IUCN’s Congress last October showed the interest, dedication, desire for action of an increasingly diverse environmental movement. In Barcelona we saw IUCN at its best: members, partners and friends exchanging practical ideas, sharing knowledge and renewing their commitment for action. We now need to convey this message loud and clear everywhere we live, in every meeting we attend and through everything we do.

The possibility of seeing a US Administration joining European efforts in becoming fully engaged in climate negotiations and investing massively in alternative energy is an encouraging sign. The government and people of China are also taking these matters seriously through their quest for a ‘Harmonious Society’, and indeed one consequence of the financial crisis has been to broaden the group of those involved in finding solutions. If emerging economies become involved in confronting the financial crisis, the same should happen in discussions on climate.

On a more personal note, I wish to share my enthusiasm and confidence about the future of IUCN. I believe that we all came out of Barcelona with a renewed sense of purpose, with an energized membership conscious of having sent a strong message on the need to work together better and a shared desire for concrete action. This message that we can do more, with Commissions, Members and Secretariat working seamlessly and transparently together, was heard loud and clear. With a new and inspiring President and Council, we now need to maintain the momentum and take our Union to a higher level. And with our new programme, we must set the tone and pace in 2009 to make concrete and measurable progress towards a more just and sustainable world.
I cannot take leave of 2008 without thanking Valli Moosa, our former President and his Council, for their dedication and support of the Union. They can be proud of having served our cause well during their term.

And of course, I would like to thank all of IUCN’s Members, the dedicated Commissions and our staff, for their on-going commitment to keep nature alive. We will have a very busy year in 2009, but I am confident that together, we are up to the challenge.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre

Gland, December 2008

North America
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