COMMENTS from the CHAIR - CEESP | Issue 0812

In a few weeks the world’s conservation community will converge in Jeju, South Korea for the World Conservation Congress. This is a rare opportunity for IUCN member organisations, the Secretariat and Commission members to meet together to report on achievements, elect a new President, Council and Commission Chairs and most importantly plan for the future. It’s hard to imagine that 4 years has already passed since I was elected Chair of CEESP at the WCC in 2009. What an amazing experience it has been!


In the course of this work, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many incredible people doing incredible things for nature, for communities, for humanity. The joy of being enriched by an ever increasing network of respected friends and colleagues is only dimmed when someone is lost. Sadly, CEESP lost two very valuable members in the space of two weeks. Professor Emmanuel Obot from Nigeria who was Chair of the Theme on Social and Environmental Accountability of the Private Sector (TSEAPRISE) was one of those killed in the aircraft crash in Nigeria on June 3rd. Professor Elinor Ostrom, a founding member of the CEESP Theme of Governance, Equity and Rights and the first woman to receive a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science passed away on June 12th. IUCN, CEESP and humanity benefitted immeasurably from the work of these two outstanding people. They will be forever treasured and sorely missed.

Since the May Newsletter, I have participated in a number of events, including the SSC/SCPA Workshop on Criteria to Identify Sites of Global Significance for Biodiversity Conservation held in Cambridge, June 5-8th. I also gave a keynote presentation at the International Indigenous Development Research Conference held in Auckland, NZ 27-30 June. My presentation was titled ‘Guardians & Gold Diggers’. The abstract provides the following description “Indigenous peoples are often described as having a ‘special relationship’ with the land and are acknowledged as being ‘guardians’ of nature in a spiritual passive sense, but when lands and waters and values are threatened requiring guardians to actively guard and defend, no such ‘special relationship’ is deemed to exist. This presentation explores indigenous distinctiveness and wellbeing in the context of sustainable development, the trade-offs that are being made in the pursuit of economic development, the skills required for this and the next generation of guardians, and where indigenous world views about the sanctity of lands and waters sit within the push for the ‘products’ of sustainable development such as the green economy, payment for ecosystem services and REDD.

I didn't attend Rio+20 but many members of the Commission did and their reports and impressions make for interesting reading in this Newsletter.

From July, I have been actively teaching in my home university, Victoria University of Wellington, courses on Indigenous Cultural & Intellectual Property issues, Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal Settlement process and lecturing in other courses on Management, Maori Studies, Management of Maori Resources and Pacific Jurisprudence.
As well, a great amount of time has been spent preparing for the WCC. CEESP will present a report to the WCC on our collective achievements over the past four years (2009-2012) as well as a new mandate to guide the work CEESP progresses during 2013-2016. Both of these documents can be downloaded through this Newsletter in the Section “CEESP at the WCC”. A significant development for CEESP has been the identification of four key priorities to guide the work of all Themes & regional networks in CEESP. These are;

  1. Development and promotion of a conservation ethic that supports diverse knowledge systems and values, delivers rights-based and equitable conservation with improved governance of natural resources and tangible livelihoods benefits, and links biological diversity with the cultural dimensions of nature conservation with a focus on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.
  2. Increased use of rights-based approaches to natural resource management and governance that promotes social and cultural equity, indigenous peoples' self-determination, community governance, sustainable livelihoods and human security.
  3. Nature-based solutions to global challenges—such as climate change, conversion of forests and farmland to mono-crops, including bio-fuels projects, food insecurity, poverty, inequitable economic and social development—that are underpinned by economic policies that reinforce sustainability ,social equity and environmental integrity.
  4. Enhanced capacity of civil society, governments and the private sector to ensure corporate social and environmental accountability and reduce the negative impact of industries on climate, biocultural diversity and food security.

Based on these priorities, four official WCC events of CEESP will elaborate on these issues and offer suggestions as to how CEESP can make a difference in our programme for the next four years. There are many other workshops, knowledge cafes and conservation campus sessions CEESP members are involved in. A list of these is included in this Newsletter.

I am grateful to IUCN President Ashok Khosla for providing the Guest Editorial including offering some suggestions for the future work of CEESP.

I look forward to the next four years serving as Chair of CEESP, but would like to take this opportunity to thank the current CEESP SC for their work and support and the CEESP membership for offering knowledge, networks, resources and time. Your feedback on any item in this newsletter is welcomed. Happy Reading.

Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Chair, IUCN CEESP
Wellington, Aotearoa NZ August 2012

Work area: 
Social Policy
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