European biodiversity: where we are and where to go

A special panel comprising high-level representatives of some of IUCN partners debated the current challenges of biodiversity in Europe and the role IUCN should play to solve them, at the European Conservation Forum yesterday. Here are some of the ideas which arose from the debate.

RCF Europe

Elisabeth Maruma Mrema, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals
What makes the IUCN community important is its work at the local level. Members are the drivers of the organization. IUCN could invest more in a bottom-up approach to avoid overlaps and duplication. IUCN has many Members yet it is not about the numbers but the impact on the ground. IUCN should not invest in small projects that require resources and bring little impact to reduce the loss of biodiversity. IUCN’s action in Europe should also not neglect legal issues which are not clearly identified in the draft Programme.

François Wakenhut, Directorate-General for the Environment, European Commission
We need to go beyond our traditional areas of work. Natura 2000 covers now 18% of the land in the EU, but we lose biodiversity dramatically and therefore we need to work beyond protected areas and focus on the other 82% of land. The knowledge which IUCN can bring to the EU level can be used more effectively. IUCN should position itself more strongly and the European Parliament is a place that should be invested in more actively, as it offers the opportunity to inspire new debates and think out of the box.

Joe Zammit-Lucia, artist, author and commentator
The conservation community has achieved a lot in the last 25 years, but is time to make a change and turn knowledge into action. IUCN is in a great position to lead that change. It has to find its own voice, invest in capabilities to reach all the stakeholders in the environmental debate and include politicians, the general public and business. It should bring in a true understanding of business, social issues and the complexity of human behavior as well as the political reality.

Gerard Bos, Holcim Group
Corporations can learn a lot from nature and IUCN needs to have clear messages on how the private sector can contribute to conservation. IUCN could help companies find their way in the labyrinth of environmental policies and legislation, and implement them effectively. IUCN should take a strong position and turn business lobbyists into IUCN ambassadors.

Oliver Hillel, Convention on Biological Diversity
There are 1 million local governments in the world. Local governments are in a much better position than national governments to lead and act. Cities do not coordinate their actions with each other and IUCN, together with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, can play a role in collaborating more effectively, accommodating the knowledge and understanding the needs. IUCN should think of ways to build its capacity to work with local authorities between now and the World Conservation Congress in Jeju.

Work area: 
Cement and Aggregates
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