Standing tall

A farewell note to Nik Lopoukhine

By Trevor Sandwith, Director Global Protected Areas Programme

Nik Lopoukhine in tree

Amid the build up to the World Conservation Congress, it might be easy to forget that it that this event is also marks the end of an era for WCPA. Nik Lopoukhine was elected as Chair of WCPA in Bangkok in 2004, and will hand over the reins to his successor in Jeju. I was fortunate enough to be nominated by Nik as Deputy Chair, and so have had a chance to experience his steady and calm leadership style over the past eight years.

Among his achievements has been to forge much stronger alignment between the WCPA regions and IUCN regional programmes, and so our annual meetings are characterised by a new synergy between Commission and staff which is a wonderful prelude to the new IUCN Programme that will be adopted in Jeju. Most significantly, he has encouraged a much greater awareness of the practice to policy linkage, enabling good case studies and innovation in the field, to be presented at a high level in the halls of power of the CBD and the Climate Change Convention.

WCPA’s Natural Solutions ideas have reached every corner of the globe, and the concept is now strongly embedded as one of IUCN’s three major programmatic priorities. WCPA members have also become key partners in the regional workshops convened by the CBD around the world, and our technical advice is sought after in both traditional areas of expertise, such as categories and management effectiveness, as well as new challenges, such as climate change, desertification and ecological restoration. The strong decisions on protected areas that emerged during the past eight years are testimony to these “behind the scenes” efforts.

Many will also recognise Nik for strongly supporting the strengthening of the Global Protected Areas Programme, championing this cause in Council, and for mobilizing support from the World Protected Area Leadership Forum to provide strategic and hands-on assistance. His support hasn’t ended there and in particular, he has facilitated a much closer working relationship between the leadership of the Commission and the Secretariat programme. As the new Director of that Programme, I would like to thank him and his colleagues on the WCPA Steering Committee for his excellent work, knowing that he is handing over a very strong mandate and highly committed leadership to the incoming Chair. I know that you will all join me in thanking him and wishing him well in the future. Now’s the chance for you to have your say..... 

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