The governing body of the world's leading authority on biodiversity, the Council of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), met yesterday with President Nelson R. Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg.
The Council, led by its President Valli Moosa, includes the world's leading ecologists and environmentalists, and handed to President Mandela the latest updated IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The 2007 IUCN Red List concluded that 16,306 of the 41, 415 species listed are currently threatened with extinction.
IUCN members include nearly 200 governments and government agencies and more than 800 non-governmental organisations. IUCN has representation in over 43 countries and has an extensive network of offices and staff working at global, regional and national level. It bases its decisions on the scientific research of more than 10,000 volunteer scientists working in six commissions. Its Species Survival Commission (SSC) produces the Red List.
The Red List documents and highlights biodiversity loss at species level and provides guidance for conservation action by governments and conservation organisations.
"Having been afforded the opportunity to present the Red List to former President Mandela is a very significant occasion," Moosa said. "The Constitution of South Africa was enacted during Mandela's leadership as President and refers explicitly to the rights of individuals to a safe and healthy environment. IUCN is a unique union of members and we therefore have a particular obligation to ensure that all relevant public institutions, companies and NGOs have access to this information to ensure that decision-making at all levels is informed by sound science."
Dr. Holly Dublin, chair of the IUCN SSC with its global head office in South Africa, said: "Monitoring trends in the status of species (or biodiversity) underpins the principles of sustainable use to which Southern Africa is deeply committed. Human wellbeing and livelihoods are directly linked and highly dependent on the health of species and ecosystems."
The Council met President Mandela after concluding its meeting yesterday in the Kruger National Park. It is the first time in the Union's 59-year history that a full meeting was held away from its Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland.
For more information:
Sarah Halls, IUCN Media Relations Officer, Tel: +41 22 999 0127; Mob: +41 79 24 72 926;
Fax: +41 22 999 0020; Email: email@example.com; Web: www.iucn.org