Yolan Friedmann, IUCN Councillor, shares her views on day 4 of the Regional Conservation Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa.
The discussions yesterday and today regarding the IUCN Programme have been very insightful for me, both as a Councillor and a representative of an IUCN Member organisation. A key point of discussion which was raised several times was the ‘elephant in the room’ that few conservation organisations seem willing to tackle: that of human population growth.
There is great concern among some African members that unless we start debating and addressing the issue of human population size, all the tools and instruments that we may develop for conserving our natural resources can never achieve their objectives against a tide of the increasingly unsustainable human impact on the earth. Naturally, the issue usually creates a deafening silence in the room but nods of heads could be seen in most corners. It seems that there is consensus on the need to debate the issue but we are nowhere near consensus on what needs to be done, what IUCN’s role is, how this should fit into the programme of work and even how to approach the matter.
Much debate was also held around the component of the programme that deals with food security, naturally also an important African issue. However, questions asked related to whether or not it should be extracted from the general focus on ecosystem services and how it could become a source of opportunism for some organizations that focus on resource utilisation in the absence of holistic biodiversity conservation. More on this and other programme issues will come out in the report.
The presence and interest of many new Members has been refreshing and gratifying, and the discussions robust and informative. The Secretariat must also be complimented on their excellent organization and hard work, and I would personally like to thank every IUCN Member and IUCN staff member for their involvement and participation in this important event.