En Route to Marseille

IUCN representatives and members from East and West Europe, North and Central Asia were brought together during three days of dialogue at the IUCN Regional Conservation Forum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. More than 320 participants discussed Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework and the pressing challenges of our time as well as the proposed IUCN Programme for 2021-2024 and the regional priorities for the coming years.

Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of IUCN, called for engaging and constructive discussions on the draft IUCN Programme, and highlighted that “IUCN members provide a crucial regional perspective to make sure our programme is relevant to the whole world”. Participants agreed that the new Programme has to be inclusive and should ensure the involvement of younger generations. In addition, it should work to apply new technologies and innovations, while having a strong emphasis on communication, education and gender equality.

The proposed Programme is structured around four themes, Healthy Lands and Waters, Healthy Oceans, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation, and Equitable Governance of Natural Resources, and it is shaped for, and by, IUCN. It aims to influence the global agenda and to inspire transformational change. “Going into the next decade, we should be no less aspirational when it comes to our goals, yet we need to be more thoughtful while setting targets,” said Boris Erg, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“To enable the effective impact of our programme, we, as IUCN, should aim to create the political will needed to position nature on the agenda in the economic world,” stressed Luc Bas, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Europe

Coenraad Krijger, Director of IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands, concluded by saying that stopping biodiversity loss should be embraced as a joint task, given that nature surpasses borders, and that “as IUCN, we all share one goal – a green, healthy and beautiful planet for all people everywhere and the millions of other beautiful forms of life”. He gave special thanks to the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the provincial government of Zuid Holland for their support in making it possible for IUCN to convene the Forum.

En Route to Marseille Photo: Bord&Stift

Henk Ovink, First Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, reminded the Forum of the need for urgent action, calling for IUCN to act as a leader. “You discussed the lack of political will… yet IUCN is able to mobilise civil society and bring about a strong action agenda, and lead the collaboration needed to hold politicians accountable and to help them act, so we can together withstand the challenges we face as a society”, he added.

The Regional Conservation Forum in Rotterdam served as a great preparatory step towards the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2020. It opened a constructive dialogue, reminded the Union on governance rules and procedures, and offered a platform for its Members to share their proposals for Motions.

Officially closing the Forum, Philippe Lalliot, Ambassador of France to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, said that he was very pleased to learn that the event inspired fruitful exchange amongst the participants. “We are now ready to go from Rotterdam 2019 to Marseille 2020. We look forward to welcoming you in France next year to jointly make the IUCN Congress a great success,” he said. 

The IUCN World Conservation Congress, the world’s leading biodiversity event, will take place 11–19 June 2020 in Marseille, France, under the theme ‘One nature, one future’. With this theme, the Congress will highlight the need for a healthy natural world as a prerequisite for assuring the sustainable future of our planet. The outcomes of the IUCN Congress will inform new global targets to address the escalating biodiversity crisis under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), set at the CBD Conference of Parties to be held in Kunming, China, during October 2020.

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