Last month, the EURO Office hosted the IUCN EU Policy Advisory Group (EUPAG) meeting and IUCN Working Group on National Committee Development in Europe, North and Central Asia (WGNC) meeting. Representatives from National Committees, members, Commission members as well as from IUCN offices were present during the meetings.
The aim of the two-day meeting was to prepare for the upcoming IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 in Hawai’i in September and to discuss issues of European relevance. The WGNC reported on the activities of the Working Group, particularly the status of the Global Group Motion (assigned motion number 002), the six-hour event Celebrating National and Regional National Committees to be held on 1 September 2016 at the IUCN Congress and Project Postcard. It was also highlighted that the WGNC Rome Charter will be reviewed in order to invite more national committees from the region to sign up to the IUCN Congress. The meeting proceeded with updates from IUCN and IPBES (Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), who briefed the Council on important conservation issues in Europe (e.g. fracking, turtle dove hunting etc.), updates from the IUCN Brussels (EURO) and Belgrade (ECARO) offices, the new structure of the regional implementation plans, which will be published after the IUCN Congress as well as updates on the regional activities during Congress. Finally, the Council discussed the motions that will be voted on prior to and during the IUCN Congress. The motions proposed by Council as well as motions seeming controversial were highlighted.
A total of 10 organisations attended the 11th meeting of the EUPAG with representatives from five European countries. The EUPAG meeting confirmed the five priority policy areas that the IUCN Brussels Office will focus on, which are: EU biodiversity policy, agriculture (with a particular focus on the CAP debate), land use in relation to climate change (with a specific focus on the LULUCF debate and forest landscape restoration), marine policy (focusing on marine litter) as well as the broader debate on the EU Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These priorities are consistent with IUCN’s global programme, which will be approved during the IUCN Congress 2016. The results of the EUPAG meeting also included the definition of some specific actions for each of these policy areas, such as the elaboration of more detailed strategic planning for the work in each of these areas and the identification of experts or ‘champions’ to enhance collaboration opportunities within the IUCN network . Due to capacity challenges, it was clarified that the level of intervention will vary between the policy areas. IUCN very much welcomes the active and constructive participation of its members in debates and is committed to follow-up the agreed actions and way forward.
Chris Mahon, Chair of the IUCN Working Group for National Committee Development, said "it is always a pleasure to meet face-to-face with IUCN colleagues and this event was even better than previous occasions when we have been together. There was a good turnout of both national committees and member organisations who enjoyed an interesting agenda and great networking. It enabled our network of national committees to grow in size and strength and, importantly, work in collaboration with the IUCN Secretariat."