IUCN Congress Bulletin

 

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)

 

Vol. 39 No. 09
Friday, 19 November 2004
 

3RD IUCN WCC HIGHLIGHTS:

THURSDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2004

IUCN members gathered in the morning to attend the 29th sitting of the Congress, and the opening session of the World Conservation Forum. Throughout the day, numerous sessions, including the opening sessions of the Global Synthesis Workshops, convened to address the four Forum Themes: Ecosystem Management; Health, Poverty and Conservation; Biodiversity Loss and Species Extinction; and Markets, Business and the Environment. Ministers and other high-level representatives engaged in a High-Level Roundtable in the afternoon to consider issues relating to ecosystem services in the Asia-Pacific. In the evening, ministers and senior representatives from the private sector and NGOs met in a High-Level Roundtable to discuss business and the environment.

CONGRESS PLENARY

Hugette Labelle, Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the 3rd World Conservation Congress, welcomed members to the Congress. Yolanda Kakabadse, IUCN President, introduced, and members approved, the draft terms of reference and proposed membership of the Credentials Committee (CGR/3/2004/3). Following the opening session of the World Conservation Forum, members heard a preliminary report from the Credentials Committee on the status of credentials received to date and the proposed new electronic voting system. Members considered and approved: the revised provisional agenda (CGR/3/2004/1.Rev.1); and two amendments to the rules of procedure of the Congress regarding the Credentials Committee and electronic voting proposed by Council and further amended by the International Council of Environmental Law (CGR/3/2004/2). Members also considered and approved the draft terms of reference and proposed membership of the Resolutions, Finance and Audit, Programme and Governance Committees (CGR/3/2004/3, 4, 5, 6 and 24).

WORLD CONSERVATION FORUM

Editor’s note: IISD’s coverage of the World Conservation Forum focused on deliberations during the opening plenary, the Global Synthesis Workshops, a number of other workshops, and the High-Level Roundtables.

OPENING PLENARY

Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General, served as Master of Ceremony of the Forum’s opening plenary, which comprised several speeches, a keynote address, a video presentation, a theater performance and a panel discussion.

Suwit Khunkitti, Thailand’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, welcomed participants to the Forum. Highlighting Thailand’s commitment to the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources, Minister Suwit said conservation and protection of natural resources are development priorities for his country. He also stressed the Forum’s role in information exchange, as well as the importance of the inter-relationship between the four Themes of the Forum.

Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado of Japan, Honorary President of BirdLife International, outlined the efforts of Birdlife International and Japan in the conservation of threatened birds.

In a video message, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, conveyed three requests to the Congress, appealing that participants: not “turn their backs” on rural economies; balance development and environment needs; and “uphold the power and majesty of nature.”

In his keynote address, Anand Panyarachun, former Prime Minister of Thailand, underscored the need to demonstrate that development can be achieved without damaging nature. He noted that while environmental issues have become more mainstreamed, they remain less influential in political decision making processes. He drew attention to how: government decisions have been mainstreamed at the international level; decision-making authority has been decentralized; and public resources and responsibilities have shifted to civil society, in particular the private sector. Noting IUCN’s role in providing a global forum for the conservation sector, he emphasized the need for the organization to engage the private sector.

Participants saw a theater performance by actors from various African and Asian countries, which portrayed the importance of natural resource conservation to the well-being of local communities, and highlighted the potentially detrimental effects that protected areas impose on local communities and their livelihoods.

Minu Hemmati, Seed Initiative, moderated a panel discussion, which exchanged ideas on conservation challenges. Participants heard a song by Marta Isabel Ruiz Corzo, Sierra Gorda Ecological Group of Mexico, celebrating human belonging to the earth. Bertrand Collomb, Chair of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and of Lafarge, underscored the dependence of the business community on ecosystem services and the need for cooperation with local communities. Drawing attention to the findings of WWF’s 2004 Living Planet Report, Claude Martin, WWF International Director General, underscored the importance of reaching out to consumers and providing options for lessening their ecological footprint. He also noted the need to engage urban youth in the conservation agenda. Karen Coshof, Stonehaven Productions, said it is incumbent that the conservation community provide the public with concrete options and positive environmental messages to empower and attract them to the conservation movement. She cautioned that the conservation agenda will continue to be overlooked by the mainstream media unless there is enhanced communication and marketing of environmental messages and initiatives. Corzo stressed the importance of community participation, mainstreaming the conservation agenda, bridging the gap between conservationists and the private sector, and changing human values with respect to nature.

Following the panel discussion, participants saw a video presentation narrated by a puppet chameleon calling on human beings to communicate and disseminate information on the importance of biodiversity.

Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya’s Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, shared Kenya’s conservation experiences, noting national and regional environmental legislation, action plans and initiatives. Highlighting the awarding of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize to Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, he underscored the inter-relationship between environment, peace and good governance. He urged conservationists to address issues of equity regarding the way the international community uses Africa’s resources. Minister Musyoka called on the Congress to produce a simple message that can be translated into policy action, and expressed Kenya’s intention to host the 4th World Conservation Congress.

Steiner concluded the opening session of the Forum, calling on participants to “reflect, rethink, refocus and reposition” the conservation agenda.

GLOBAL SYNTHESIS WORKSHOPS

ECOSYSTEM MANAGEMENT - BRIDGING SUSTAINABILITY AND PRODUCTIVITY: The opening session of the Global Synthesis Workshop on ecosystem management was chaired by Hillary Masundire, Commission on Ecosystem Management Chair.

John McNeill, Georgetown University, outlined global environmental history over the last two centuries, and elaborated on how human activities, such as energy systems, population growth, politics and technology, have caused environmental changes. He noted that climate change, freshwater and biodiversity issues will shape environmental trends in the 21st century. He also stressed that historical perspectives can assist humankind to play a less disruptive role in the earth’s history.

Participants saw a video interview with Simon Rietbergen, IUCN Ecosystem Management Programme, who shared experiences on implementing “Ecosystems and their Managers” projects in Panama and Tanzania. The video highlighted that these projects brought about significant environmental benefits, as well as social and economic gains to local communities. He emphasized the role of dialogue and communication in ecosystem management.

Judy Ling Wong, Black Environment Network UK, stressed the importance of the relationship of people to nature and highlighted the need for strategically engaging people, particularly urban populations, in environmental activities not only for protection purposes, but also for benefits to and enjoyment by people.

Widi Pratikto, Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Resources, shared experiences on decentralized management of marine and coastal resources and provided an overview on integrated coastal management initiatives in Indonesia.

In the ensuing discussion, participants debated the concept of ecosystem management and deliberated the appropriate temporal and institutional scales to implement it.

HEALTH, POVERTY AND CONSERVATION - RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGE OF HUMAN WELL-BEING: Chaired by Senator Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand, and Gillian Martin Mehers, LEAD International, the opening session of this Global Synthesis Workshop hosted two panels and presented a film on the interdependence between biodiversity protection and health issues.

Rights perspective to health, poverty and conservation: Vravaidya described innovative ways of reducing poverty through the business sector and underscored the importance of collaborating with rural people in poverty reduction projects.

Robert Archer, International Council on Human Rights Policy, noted that human rights legislation does not provide all answers for conservation, but is able to seek fair solutions and provide legal tools for vulnerable populations to help themselves.

Kerstin Mechlem, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), emphasized the linkages between the right to food and biodiversity conservation and highlighted the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as a means of protecting the right to food. She noted that environmental degradation affects human rights, in particular rights concerning access to nutritious food, water and shelter.

Wan-Hea Lee, Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, underscored accountability as the greatest contribution of a rights-based approach and stressed the importance of linking such an approach to biodiversity conservation.

Steve Sanderson, Wildlife Conservation Society, said the conservation community must demand human accountability and cautioned that a rights-based approach does not take into account limited natural resources.

Key issues on health, poverty and conservation: Eric Chivian, Center for Health and the Global Environment, underscored the interdependence between human health and biodiversity, cautioning that decreased biodiversity would result in loss of medicines, research models and ecosystem services. He stressed that human health is at the core of sustainability.

Noting that the traditional economic growth model is detrimental to natural resources and human health, Thanpuying Suthawan Sathirathai, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlighted that the approach to economic growth in Thailand is changing, particularly at the community level, where there is an increasing focus on indigenous knowledge and natural resource conservation.

Priyanut Piboolsravut, Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board, presented on Thailand’s “Sufficiency of Economy” approach, elaborating on its principles, which include self-reliance, and incremental, moderate and appropriate development.

Vladimir Sakharov, Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit, noted the links between poverty, health, environment, conservation, and sustainable development, and stressed that an integrated approach is vital in reducing disaster effects on humans and biodiversity.

BIODIVERSITY LOSS AND SPECIES EXTINCTION - MANAGING RISK IN A CHANGING WORLD: The opening session of this Global Synthesis Workshop was chaired by Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Oteng-Yeboah explained how species extinction can hinder sustainable development. He said achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) depends on biodiversity conservation, and drew attention to the importance of cooperation among international initiatives and processes in achieving the 2010 Biodiversity Target and the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.

Craig Hilton-Taylor, IUCN Red List Programme, presented the Global Species Assessment on the status and distribution of biodiversity loss and its associated causes. He said current extinction rates are considerably greater than natural extinction rates and concluded that little progress has been made to meet the 2010 target.

Walter Reid, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), provided a preview of the MA’s findings and identified actions needed to address harmful changes in ecosystems, such as addressing market failures.

Piers Blaikie, University of East Anglia, presented a framework to identify and assess the driving forces of biodiversity loss and the “pressure points” acting upon them. He concluded by highlighting the importance of tackling both direct and indirect causes of biodiversity loss.

Imène Meliane, IUCN Global Marine Programme, presented a brief overview of the impacts, livelihood interlinkages, solutions and priority actions on invasive alien species, medicinal plant overexploitation and climate change.

Princess Takamado presented the biodiversity situation in Japan and described significant initiatives of BirdLife International, such as the Important Bird Area Programme.

In the ensuing discussion, participants debated, inter alia, the different values that people give to biodiversity, the true costs of aquaculture, and species conservation beyond protected areas. They also considered whether there is sufficient international governance to tackle biodiversity loss.

MARKETS, BUSINESS AND THE ENVIRONMENT - STRENGTHENING CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, LAW AND POLICY: The opening session of this Global Synthesis Workshop was moderated by Simon Upton, Chair of the OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development. Upton said global interest in forging alliances with businesses to promote sustainability had grown between the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. He highlighted the potential for corporations to utilize their global networks to achieve environmental results.

Doug Miller, GlobeScan, presented a summary of the results of a global public opinion study on key environmental and natural resource concerns, attitudes and behaviors of individuals in urban areas from 21 countries.

Peter King, Asian Development Bank, highlighted the importance of civil society and the private sector in assisting governments, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, to improve environmental quality.

Following these presentations, Upton explained that over the course of the Forum, the workshop will convene sessions focusing on: corporate social responsibility (CSR) and voluntary approaches; trade and biodiversity; and ecosystem markets. Participants heard brief introductions on these topics by the session conveners.

On CSR and voluntary approaches, Kerry ten Kate, Insight Investment, noted that investors can influence conservation by, inter alia: providing capital for markets that internalize conservation costs; considering ecosystem issues in investment decisions; and encouraging corporate best practices on environmental issues.

On trade and biodiversity, Toufiq Ali, WTO Committee on Trade and Environment, elaborated on the relationship between multilateral environmental agreements and WTO rules.

On ecosystem markets, Kim Yeadon, Member of Parliament, New South Wales, outlined a range of practical policies to pursue a progressive solution for balancing social, economic and environmental outcomes.

In the ensuing discussion, participants deliberated, inter alia: the results of the global public opinion survey; the importance of consumer pressure on the private sector for changing corporate behavior; and the need for international binding regulation to address the corporate responsibility for environmental issues.

CONSERVATION PLATFORMS: Durban Delivers: Chaired by Kakabadse, this session focused on reporting progress on actions since the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress in 2003. Kakabadse highlighted the Congress’ success. David Sheppard, IUCN Program on Protected Areas, noted that species extinctions continue despite an increase in protected areas. He underscored the need to target critical areas and protect under-represented ecosystems, such as marine protected areas. David Mabunda, South African National Parks, elaborated on South Africa’s progress in establishing protected areas. Aroha Te Pareake, IUCN Councillor representing Indigenous People, called attention to the historical legacy caused by the establishment of protected areas prior to the acknowledgement of indigenous peoples’ rights. David Cooper, CBD Secretariat, outlined a roadmap and the needs for achieving targets concerning the establishment of an integrated global network of terrestrial and marine protected areas. He further highlighted the challenge of establishing high seas protected areas. Ernesto Enkerlin, CONAMP Mexico, elaborated on his organization’s successes, and said “conservation is not about butterflies and trees, but about people.”

SPONSORED WORKSHOPS: Linking human rights and environment - A rights based approach for environmental protection: Chaired by Victor Ricco, CEHDA, this workshop focused on using human rights as a legal tool to protect the environment. Ricco summarized the history of linkages between human rights and the environment, underscoring how human rights can be used as a strategy to protect the environment. Svitlana Kravchenko, University of Oregon, emphasized that human rights institutions can be used at the supranational and national levels. She also elaborated on procedure and enforcement at the European Union level. John Bonine, Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide, focused on the different interpretations of environmental rights at the national level, particularly by courts. Alexei Yablokov, Center for Russian Environmental Policy, proposed the creation of an International Conference on Environmental Human Rights.

In the discussion, participants addressed issues such as how environmental policy violates human rights of indigenous people, and the appropriateness of a rights-based approach to environment within IUCN, as proposed in a motion to be considered by this Congress (CGR3.RES065).

HIGH-LEVEL ROUNDTABLES

ASIA -PACIFIC 2015: ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: This session was organized by UNEP and IUCN, and was co-hosted by Minister Suwit and Achim Steiner. In their opening remarks, speakers noted the Asia-Pacific region is rich in natural resources, but stressed the need to take appropriate action to maintain ecosystem services and conserve natural resources. They noted that budgeting for ecosystem services and natural resource management must be considered as an investment and not a tax on economic development. Speakers also said that ecosystem protection holds the key to sustaining human life, ensuring economic progress, and meeting the poverty reduction goals. In the lead presentation, the speaker described ecosystem services as nature’s subsidies to livelihoods and economies, but stressed that they are undervalued, ignored or unrecognized by government policy makers. He underscored the need for policy-related interventions such as creating national green accounting systems, ensuring local and decentralized decision making, and facilitating regional planning.

In the discussion, Ministers highlighted several issues regarding ecosystem services, including: exchanging technology and experience; ensuring political action; developing community owned small and medium enterprises and cottage industries; raising community awareness on ecosystem benefits; developing renewable energy services; addressing the discriminative and illegal destruction of ecosystems; recognizing that rural livelihoods are dependent on natural resources; ensuring global and regional cooperation and partnerships; and addressing rural to urban migration. Ministers also addressed: the importance of integrated management and planning approaches; initiating ecological demonstration areas in urban and rural areas to highlight the benefits of ecosystem protection; ensuring rapid economic growth and environmental protection; creating options for local communities to protect ecosystems and ensure livelihoods; mainstreaming gender perspectives in policies and project implementation; securing livelihood rights and access to natural resources; establishing joint management programmes between governments and communities; creating incentives and disincentives for ecosystem protection; and compensating communities for the loss of cultural services.

BUSINESS AND ENVIRONMENT. WHO CARES? EXPLORING THE CASE FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION: This session was co-hosted by Minister Suwit and Achim Steiner, and was moderated by Tom Burke, E3G. In the opening remarks, a speaker highlighted the important relationship between environment, business and trade, and stressed the need for increased cooperation between the private sector, government and NGOs. He said the private sector does not only supply goods and services, but also has a responsibility for protecting the environment. Another speaker stressed the necessity for dialogue among stakeholders and highlighted the importance of clarifying the role of the marketplace in supporting biodiversity conservation. In an introductory presentation, several issues were highlighted to stimulate discussion, including: addressing the mistrust between the business, NGO and government sectors; defining yardsticks for biodiversity protection; addressing the scales of assessing biodiversity protection; ensuring compliance and implementation of the CBD commitments; measuring and reporting on progress; monitoring and accountability; and changing corporate research and development funding. Participants then discussed, in small groups, the following questions: how to identify success in business-biodiversity integration; and how society can reward success for scaling up.

On identifying success in business-biodiversity integration, participants highlighted the need to: recognize small and partial success to generate further activity; support independent certification; create tax benefits and generate economic benefits; establish baselines scenarios; enforce legislation and regulations; and combine stakeholder knowledge. Participants noted that while much can be achieved with scientific assessment, these assessments are not able to solve the problems of trade-offs and choices. Participants also suggested creating a shared vision of successful biodiversity integration.

On rewarding success, participants noted the following key issues: addressing the supply chain; changing corporate accounting practices; developing incentives and disincentives; increasing public and customer awareness; addressing the regulatory environment; compensating business; promoting the replication of good practices and skills learning.


The IUCN Congress Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin � <enb@iisd.org>. This issue is written and edited by Karen Alvarenga, Ph.D.; Robynne Boyd; Bo-Alex Fredvik; Miquel Mu�oz; Prisna Nuengsigkapian; Richard Sherman; and Sarantuyaa Zandaryaa, Ph.D.. The digital editors are David Fernau and Diego Noguera. The editor is Lynn M. Wagner, Ph.D. <lynn@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James �Kimo� Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by IUCN with assistance from the World Bank. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (ASCII and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 212 East 47th St. #21F, New York, NY 10017, USA.