Informal Members meeting for West and East Europe, North and Central Asia was arranged in Prague (Czechia) 24-25 of September 2018 by IUCN councilor Michael Hošek and Ministry of Environment of Czech Republic.
The meeting was attended by representatives of IUCN Member organizations and IUCN national committees from a number of European countries and Tadjikistan, IUCN Commissions, both regional offices for West Europe and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, secretariat as well as by councilors Michael Hošek, Jan-Olov Westerberg and Jonathan Hughes. IUCN CEC was represented by deputy chair Katalin Czippan and regional vice chairs Peter Paul van Kempen and Aleksei Zavarzin. Even being improved comparing to previous meetings Eastern Europe and North and Central Asia still remained to be underrepresented.
The Meeting’s major focus was on discussions around the issues of intensification of regional and interregional collaboration and promotion of the IUCN membership and activities. It started with a memorial session for the recently deceased IUCN councilor Dr. Rustam Sagitov who had devoted a lot of his energy in fostering integration of environmental activities of East and West and setting up “bridges” among people for better future of our planet.
Following discussion on IUCN membership strategy and its application at the regional scale, revealed understanding of existing differences between different groups of member organizations and necessity for closer work of the secretariat with the European issues. Recognizing both the current input of European members into IUCN financial stability on one hand and the history of previous exploitation of the other regions’ resources on another, participants brought up the issue of the necessity to allocate more human resources from the secretariat to serve member organizations in Europe and NC Asia. Another instrument to strengthen membership and promote IUCN integrity is to have IUCN commissions’ representatives in the scope of work of IUCN national committees. Thirdly, benefits of regional governments’ involvement (WCC-2016-Res-003) were considered to be of special value for Europe and NC Asia.
Time was allocated to discussions about the future IUCN Global program construct with a number of issues raised. These included the necessity of evaluation of the results of the current program, understanding and communicating IUCN strengths, identification of the feasible time frame for the new program (for more than 4 years period), clarification of IUCN structure to follow strategy. Regional needs and opportunities are to be better identified prior to development of a global program and discussions are to be prepared to be held at the Regional Conservation Forum (RCF) in 2019. Desirability to have joint European and NC Asian joint RCF was agreed by participants and Russia was considered as a potential country for the forum. RCF 2019 shall include the issues of regional preparation to the World Conservation Congress, programmatic discussions and motions to influence future IUCN policies, though with the special focus of practical actions and plans to implement.
Outcomes from IUCN Working Group on National Committees Development were discussed through the scope of establishing the Interregional committee for West Europe and East Europe, North and Central Asia. Despite the general support for interregional collaboration, encouragement of the idea of formal establishing the interregional committee had not being acquired to the needed extent by the time of the meeting in Prague. It was assumed that the issue has to be further discussed with members and prepared for the RCF 2019 as a separate topic.
Presentations from IUCN Commissions – this time from WCPA, WCEL and CEC - further promoted the already becoming traditional effort to help the Union’s transparency and integrity in the region.
The Meeting was considered as an important and beneficial initiative to strengthen IUCN work in the region and in need to be repeated annually. It was followed by the excursion to one of the Prague’s natural protected area - Prokopské and Dalejské údolí nature reserve, voluntary managed by a local NGO.
We all are grateful to Michael Hošek and Ministry of Environment of Czech Republic for hosting the Meeting!
For more information contact Aleksei Zavarzin