Nature in 2012: a look back and a look ahead

Message from IUCN’s Director General, Julia Marton-Lefèvre and President, Zhang Xinsheng.

Community forest resource planning, Vietnam

2012 lived up to its promise of being one of the busiest years for the global environmental community. From the birth of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) to the Rio+20 conference, and from UN climate and biodiversity meetings to IUCN’s own World Conservation Congress, we certainly had our hands full this year!

All of these major policy events focused on intensifying global efforts towards sustainable development and keeping us within planetary boundaries. And IUCN used its voice and influence to advocate that it is only by investing in nature that we can create a sustainable future for everyone.

Sustainability is, of course, in IUCN’s DNA. IUCN was the first to coin the concept of “sustainable development” in its World Conservation Strategy published with WWF and UNEP in 1980, and has been working towards making it a reality ever since.

With the adoption by our Members at the World Conservation Congress of the new IUCN Programme for 2013-16, we have put on the table another idea that could be just as far-reaching and game-changing.

That idea is nature-based solutions.

IUCN pioneered this concept first in the context of climate negotiations, and increasingly as our overarching response to the biggest challenges of the 21st century — from climate change and food security, to economic and social development. All of these issues depend on the health of the Earth’s ecosystems.

Over the next four years, we will demonstrate how restored and well-managed ecosystems make cost-effective contributions to fighting climate change and poverty, ensuring food and energy security, and boosting resilience against disasters.

In deploying these nature-based solutions, we aim to make a real difference to people’s lives around the world — from the coastal regions in Asia to the small islands in the Pacific; from Mesoamerican rainforests to South American highlands; and from urban areas in Europe and North America to drylands in Africa and West Asia.

IUCN stands ready, more than ever before, to make these solutions happen across the board — in all sectors, communities and countries.

With our best wishes for a healthy and peaceful New Year.

Work area: 
West and Central Africa
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