Note from the Chair of CEESP

CEESP News: by Kristen Walker Paniemilla, Chair of CEESP

There is much happening across the Commission. These last few months, the IUCN family has focused efforts on the preparation of WCC forum proposals, motions and revisions to the WCC Program. In this letter, I will share just a few of the many activities CEESP members and chairs are involved in, in terms of our program of work, as well as preparations for WCC.

Participants in the workshop of indigenous leaders, preparing for UNFCCC COP25.

It’s been a busy 2019 thus far; it’s hard to believe that we are only 11 months away from the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC2020), taking place next June in Marseille, France.

Our work on Natural Resource Governance (NRGF) continues to advance in collaboration with the IUCN Secretariat, through the Global Rights and Governance Programme (GPGR). I would like to acknowledge the work of Jessica Campese (CEESP) and Barbara Nakangu (GPGR) for their leadership on NRGF. They have worked hard to engage members in NRGF in the various IUCN Regional Conservation Forums and have also launched a webinar series. Please visit the NRGF page on the CEESP website for more information.

I am pleased to share that CEESP will produce a Policy Matters Special Issue on the subject of Environmental Defenders in the lead up to WCC 2020. This work is being organized through our Theme on Business, Best Practice and Accountability, the Chair’s office, and IUCN Netherlands (IUCN NL). We are pleased to collaborate with IUCN NL on this very important topic. We received over 75 submissions for the special issue and are enthusiastic about how it will come together!

CEESP members and Chairs have been very active in terms of publications and knowledge sharing. Some examples: In collaboration with the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN), we launched the Proceeding of the Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods Conference. Aisa Mustafa Hammadeen, CEESP Regional Vice Chair for West Asia, authored a chapter for Eglar Encyclopedia on Environmental Law: Evaluation of human rights and the environment in Jordan. Ashley Massey Marks, co-chair of the Theme on Culture, Spirituality and Conservation, screened a film that was produced in collaboration with the Society for Conservation Biology on the important links between Culture, Spirituality and Conservation. The film is narrated by Martin Palmer and is available here.  

In May, IUCN’s Global Rights and Governance Programme (GPGR), in collaboration with CEESP, supported IUCN Indigenous Peoples Member (IPO members) organizations in a peer-to-peer learning exchange in Tecpan, Guatemala. Forty-two indigenous leaders participated in a series of capacity building and knowledge sharing activities on global policy, enterprise development and institutional strengthening. 

Dawn breaks over TblisiDawn breaks over Tbilisi, Georgia, June 2019. Photo: Iben Caroline Munck

In June, the members of the CEESP Steering Committee (SC) met in Tbilisi, Georgia. Participants included CEESP Theme Chairs, Regional Vice Chairs, Specialist Group Chairs, the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), and IUCN Secretariat staff.  This was CEESP’s third SC meeting in this quadrennium; previous meetings took place in Halifax, Canada (June 2018) and Entebbe, Uganda (September 2017). In Tbilisi, CEESP had the opportunity to collaborate with IUCN Councilor Tamar Pataridze and engage IUCN members in Georgia. CEESP also had the opportunity to learn about the work of CENN, an IUCN member working to protect the environment by fostering sustainable development throughout the South Caucasus. CENN invited CEESP SC members to visit three of their projects that engage youth, women and sustainable tourism alternatives. Reports from CEESP SC meetings and from Thematic -, Specialist -, and Regional Vice Chairs can be found on the IUCN portal.

Many IUCN Regional Conservation Forums (RCFs) took place between May and August. CEESP was able to share our work in all of the regional forums and engage with CEESP and IUCN members. Here is a summary of those activities:


Mesoamerican RCF: Presentations by CEESP Chair, Deputy Chair and Regional Vice Chair, Osvaldo Munguia, as well as IPO Meeting + many meetings with members


  • North America & Caribbean RCF: Presentation by CEESP Chair



  • South America RCF: Presentation by CEESP Chair and engagement of NRGF with CEESP members.

In August, CEESP collaborated with the Avina Foundation, Conservation International, the Observatorio Ciudadano (Citizens’ Rights Watch) in Chile, the Parlamento Mapuche de Kurrarrewe, the ICCA Consortium, and the UNFCCC Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform to support a preparatory workshop with indigenous leaders in Chile and Argentina, to prepare for UNFCCC COP25 that will be hosted by Chile in December of 2019.

The coming months will be filled with World Conservation Congress preparations and with wrapping up the current CEESP workplan.  In October, CEESP will be actively participating in the Latin American Parks Congress in Lima, Peru, as well as hosting a workshop on Migration, Environmental Change, and Conflict at the first International Conference  on Environmental Peacebuilding in Irvine, California.  CEESP is also collaborating with the Species Survival Commission (SSC) and others on an International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence, in May 2020.  The call for contributions is now live and we encourage all our members to submit proposals. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate CEESP SC Member Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy for winning a Whitley Award for her work to safeguard sustainable fisheries in Madagascar.

CEESP Chairs Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy, Elise Huffer, and Inés Arroyo-Quiroz, during the CEESP SC meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia.CEESP Chairs Vatosoa Rakotondrazafy, Elise Huffer, and Inés Arroyo-Quiroz, during the CEESP SC meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo: Sean Southey

Finally, I can’t close this letter without acknowledging what is happening in the Amazon. The alarming forest fires that are burning in protected areas, indigenous peoples’, communal and private lands is not only affecting our environment but our community as a whole. Faced with this emergency, it is imperative that we support the work of local and national environmental organizations across the Amazon and especially in Brazil. CEESP, together with the other IUCN Commissions, Members and the Secretariat are available to provide assistance.  Please reach out to me, your colleagues within CEESP and IUCN as a whole for assistance during this time. We are here to help! Please see IUCN’s Statement on the Amazonian Fires.

I look forward to hearing from you all over the coming months on your work, and to prepare with you for the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC2020) in Marseille, France.

As always, my deepest thanks for all that you do and to the CEESP Steering Committee for all of their efforts.

Kristen Walker Painemilla

Chair, CEESP



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