Press release | 07 Sep, 2016

First global conservation priorities set – IUCN World Conservation Congress

Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, 6 September (IUCN) – Limiting illegal trade in threatened species, promoting nature-based solutions to climate change and accounting for biodiversity conservation in the development of renewables are among the first global conservation priorities set today at the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place in Hawaiʻi.

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Photo: Dan Challender

The 85 motions adopted by IUCN’s 1,300 government and civil society Members – following the first-ever electronic vote cast in August 2016 – include a ban on gillnet fishing threatening the vaquita porpoise and restrictions on trade of pangolins.

Another 14 global conservation issues will be debated and voted on over the next few days at the IUCN Congress, including advancing the conservation of the high seas, mitigating the impacts of oil palm expansion on biodiversity, protecting primary forests and closure of domestic markets to all ivory sales.

“The new electronic voting system has made the already democratic institution even more democratic,” says Enrique Lahmann, IUCN Congress Director. “By giving IUCN’s government and NGO Members time to reflect and arrive at convergence on critical issues such as illegal wildlife trade, we have used technology to boost the governance of nature.”

Members have urged for restrictions on trade in threatened pangolin species to exceptional cases only, as defined by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Despite current protection measures at the global and local levels, the species’ survival is at risk due to overexploitation, illegal trade and degradation of its habitat.

Unsustainable fisheries were the focus of another decision drawing attention to the imminent extinction threat facing the Critically Endangered vaquita in Mexico. IUCN’s government and NGO Members have urged for a permanent ban to gillnet fishing throughout the entire vaquita range in the Pacific Ocean. The vaquita is the bycatch of fishing of totoaba.

Members of IUCN have also defined nature-based solutions as actions that protect and manage ecosystems, while effectively addressing societal challenges, such as food and water security, climate change, disaster risk reduction, human health and economic well-being. The concept of nature-based solutions is particularly relevant to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

Renewable energy has been the focus of two decisions adopted by IUCN Members, who have encouraged governments to implement energy efficiency and renewable energy plans, taking into account biodiversity conservation. IUCN Members also called for enhanced efforts to minimise the impacts of offshore renewable energy technologies on marine life.

IUCN Members have also called for attention to the increasing use of ‘synthetic biology’, whose implications on biodiversity and human well-being remain unclear. According to the decision, the international conservation community needs to assess this emerging field and its impacts.

Motions are proposed by IUCN Members every four years to set priorities for the work of IUCN - a unique membership union gathering 217 state and government agencies, 1, 066 NGOs, and networks of over 16,000 experts worldwide.

For more information about the motions passed at the IUCN Congress please go here.

For more information, please contact the IUCN Congress Media Team at