Story | 07 Nov, 2019

IUCN Asia Regional Conservation Forum kicks-off with strong multi-sectoral commitments to address environmental challenges

Islamabad, Pakistan, 6 November 2019 -The 7th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asia Regional Conservation Forum – one of Asia’s most important nature conservation events - kicked-off today with a strong focus on convening a broad range of sectors and actors to develop solutions to tackle the region’s environment and development challenges.

The Forum, inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, H.E. Imran Khan, is co-hosted by the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan and IUCN through the National Committee of IUCN Members in Pakistan.

In his inaugural address, H.E. Imran Khan shared that protecting the environment is one of his priorities when he started his term as Prime Minister. “With the active participation of youth in the country, the implementation of 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project has become a gigantic step towards restoring and protecting the country’s natural resources”, said the Prime Minister. Moreover, he added that the project is now generating jobs for hundreds of people in country.

More than 500 delegates from governments, NGOs, research and academic institutions and the private sector, from 24 countries in South, East and Southeast Asia and other parts of the world are participating in this event, which happens once every four years. Attendees included high-level government officials, diplomats, IUCN members, and private sector representatives.

Asia accounts for 60% of the world's current population. It also has the highest growth rate today and is home to nearly half of the world’s poorest people, rendering poverty a key issue to be addressed. According to World Bank’s report in 2018, of the 783 million extremely poor who live below the poverty line, 33% live in South Asia and 9% live in East Asia and the Pacific.

This is a stark comparison to the stature of the region, which is considered a key driver of global economy; most countries are likely to reach middle-income status by 2020 and Asia is in the trajectory of becoming the World’s Economic Centre of Gravity by 2050. With many Asian economies relying on ecosystem services, there is an urgent need to conserve the region’s rich biological resources.

“We need to pursue the development of effective policies geared towards conserving natural resources, ecosystems and biodiversity. These policies will build the foundation for economic productivity and improved livelihoods and is key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Asia,” said the Prime Minister in his inaugural address.

“We have to act now. Nature is under intense attack.  A quarter of vertebrate and plant species on the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction, and the world does not seem to be on course to achieve many of the Aichi biodiversity targets by the 2020 deadline,” said IUCN Acting Director General, Grethel Aguilar.

“This is why the next 10 years will be crucial. By 2030, the world must achieve all the Sustainable Development Goals, and we must realise that in order to do this, we must stay positive and believe that we can do it,” added IUCN Acting Director General.

“IUCN needs to build on its strong presence in Asia, and in other parts of the developing world. We need to be sure that our major investments are taking place in the parts of the world where growth is happening and where governments need support to ensure that the development is sustainable,” said IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng.

The forum, which takes place  at Islamabad Serena Hotel until 8 November 2019 provides a platform for leaders from all sectors of society to discuss solutions to environmental, economic and social challenges in Asia. Under the theme of “Greening Asia for Nature and People”, the forum will focus on themes related to nature-based solutions to address societal challenges. A variety of side events on a broad range of topics will also be held during the 3-day event.

Discussions from the Asia Regional Conservation Forum will help shape conservation action for the next decade, as it will feed into the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which will be held in Marseille, France in June 2020.


The Asia Regional Conservation Forum

The Asia Regional Conservation Forum is IUCN’s meeting of Members in Asia. Held every four years, the Forum addresses biodiversity and ecosystem challenges and sets the region’s conservation agenda.

Leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, business and academia will assemble to share experiences, debate and decide how we manage our natural environment for social and economic development. The first Asia Regional Conservation Forum was held in 1998 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia; Delhi, India in 2000; Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2003; 2007 in Kathmandu, Nepal; 2011 in Incheon, Republic of Korea; and 2015 in Bangkok, Thailand.

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