IUCN Congress Bulletin


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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)


Vol. 39 No. 13
Tuesday, 23 November 2004



IUCN members convened in plenary for the 32nd and 33rd sitting of the Congress in the morning and the afternoon to receive reports from the recognized Regional Committees and Forums, and the Credentials Committee, and hear a presentation on the IUCN Programme 2005-2008. The Congress also considered draft resolutions and recommendations in plenary, with contact groups meeting throughout the day to advance deliberations on motions. Members also heard presentations by the candidates for IUCN President and Treasurer, and election polls officially opened in the afternoon.


Opening the 32nd sitting of the Congress, Yolanda Kakabadse, IUCN President, announced that Venezuela has rejoined the Union.

PRESENTATION OF THE REPORTS OF THE RECOGNIZED REGIONAL COMMITTEES AND FORUMS: This segment was chaired by Alistair Gammel, Council Membership Committee Chair.

Marco Cerezo, Mesoamerica Committee, stressed the importance of active participation in programme formulation. He focused on the environmental impacts of the Pueblo-Panama Plan and stressed the need to support regional capacity building.

Wren Green, Oceania Committee, urged a greater focus on the Pacific Islands, drawing attention to their unique biodiversity, vulnerability to global environmental changes, and under-representation at IUCN. He called for the establishment of a Pacific Island office in Fiji.

Lovemore Simwanda, Southern Africa Committee, stressed the need to address human security, intellectual property rights, and impacts of genetically modified organisms on local food production. He called for the establishment of a Zimbabwe office.

Mamadou Dialo, West Africa Committee, emphasized the need for linkages with the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), as well as greater capacity building and information exchange between regional and national committees.

PRESENTATION ON IUCN PROGRAMME 2005-2008: Wren Green, Congress Programme Committee Deputy Chair and Council Programme Committee Chair, presented the IUCN Programme 2005-2008. He outlined the underlying causes of unsustainability, discussed IUCN’s response to the external reviews, and identified challenges for the Union, stressing the importance of maintaining focus. He underscored the need to strengthen the environmental pillar of sustainable development, and called for a new paradigm for sustainability that recognizes the dependence of economy and society on the environment. Green described the structure of the Programme and outlined its six key result areas. He described the Programme as a step forward towards achieving a just world that values and conserves nature.

Responding to the presentation, members addressed a wide range of issues, including: financial implications of the Programme; the “business plan” for Programme implementation; the capacity of the Secretariat to deal with the increased focus on social aspects; and strengthening of regional presence.

SECOND REPORT OF THE CREDENTIALS COMMITTEE: Diane Tarte, Credentials Committee Chair (Switzerland), presented the second report of the Credentials Committee.

ELECTIONS: Antonio Machado, Elections Officer, introduced candidates for the President, the Treasurer, the Regional Councillors and the Commission Chairs, and announced that George Rabb (US) and Hermelindo Castro Nogueira (Spain) had withdrawn their candidature for Regional Councillor for the North America and Caribbean Region, and the WCPA Chair respectively. The Chair then declared the polls officially open and invited members to cast their votes.

DISCUSSION AND ADOPTION OF DRAFT RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Pierre Hunkeler, Resolutions Committee Chair, presented the draft resolutions and recommendations to the Congress for consideration and adoption. He updated members on the motions process and informed participants on the status of motions. Consideration and adoption of the draft motions took place during the 32nd and 33rd sittings of the Congress.

The governance-related resolution on Precedence clause - establishing precedence in regard to IUCN general policy (RES001) was approved with no amendment.

The following programme-related resolutions were approved with no or minor discussion: International covenant on environment and development (RES018); Education and communication in the IUCN programme (RES019); Capacity building of Young Professionals (RES021); Capacity building in applied and demand-driven taxonomy (RES022); Volunteer translators and interpreters to serve IUCN (RES024); Establishment of the World Conservation Learning Network (RES026-REV 1); Strengthening the action of the IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation (RES027); Aral Sea Basin as the hot spot for biodiversity conservation (RES028); Antarctica and the Southern Ocean (RES029-REV1); Arctic legal regime for environmental protection (RES030-REV1); Protection of the Macal River Valley in Belize (RES032-REV1); Biodiversity in Southern Sudan (RES033); Integrating protected area systems into the wider landscape (RES038); Adapting to climate change: a framework for conservation action (RES042-REV1); IUCN’s energy-related work related to biodiversity conservation (RES044-REV1); The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (RES048); Cities and conservation (RES049); A landscape/seascape approach to conservation (RES050); Status of floating atomic stations in the world’s oceans (RES052-REV1); Transboundary cooperation in mountain areas (RES056); Establishing gender equity as a mandate in the strategic activities and themes of IUCN (RES071); and Conservation of Gyps species of vultures in South and Southeast Asia (RES078).

The programme-related resolution on drafting a charter of ethics for biodiversity conservation (RES017) was approved with a technical correction. The following programme-related resolutions were adopted with amendments: Mobile Indigenous Peoples and Conservation (RES068-REV1); Illegal and unsustainable international trade in wildlife in the ASEAN and Mekong River Riparian States (RES072); and Implementing the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity (RES073).

On resource-based conflicts in Darfur, Sudan (RES034), the Programme Committee said the Congress should consider the feasibility of implementation, noting that the actions would require IUCN to work in an active war zone with intensive conflict. Resolution co-sponsors East African WildLife Society and the Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society noted that there are indigenous NGOs who are comfortable with working in the area and said IUCN would only begin activities when security could be ensured. ProNatura highlighted that an ad hoc contact group would be meeting in the evening, and consideration of the resolution was deferred.

On freshwater protected areas (RES039), the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales proposed a number of amendments to the text. Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs underscored its position that establishment of protected areas should be based on scientific information, and WWF-Switzerland highlighted the omission of a number of paragraphs that were formulated in a contact group. Consideration of this resolution was deferred to a contact group.

On military activities and the production, stockpiling and use of weapons that are of detriment to the environment (RES043), the Programme Committee highlighted programmatic and financial implications of this resolution. Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opposed by the Environment Public Authority, requested replacing a reference to “the Gulf” with a reference to “the Persian Gulf.” Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment said the requests to the Director General were not appropriate for IUCN. Consideration of this resolution was deferred to a contact group.

On legal aspects of the sustainable use of soils (RES058), Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs proposed additional language requesting the Director General to work with IUCN members on the outlines for a global legal instrument for sustainable soil use. India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests requested to include interested members in the development of national sustainable soil use legislation. The resolution was approved as amended.

On medicinal plant conservation (RES059), Fundación Red Informatica Ecologista proposed inclusion of language stating that technical and scientific assistance be provided especially to IUCN members representing indigenous peoples, and India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests suggested providing assistance especially to civil society and local communities. The resolution was approved with the latter amendment.

On promoting food sovereignty to conserve biodiversity and end hunger (RES067-REV1), the Programme Committee said the resolution, if approved, would represent a major extension of IUCN’s programme activities, as well as a shift in IUCN’s approach to biodiversity conservation. Canada’s Wildlife Service, Sweden’s Ministry of the Environment, the Conservation Council of New South Wales, New Zealand’s Ecological Society, and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment, Energy and Mines expressed concern over the resolution’s emphasis on food sovereignty, noting that this would broaden IUCN’s scope and mandate, and would entail a shift from the Union’s approach to biodiversity conservation. Kakabadse said a revised text with the amendments would be circulated for discussion, and deferred consideration of the resolution.

On the involvement of local and regional government authorities within IUCN (RES04), Juan Mayr, Governance Committee Chair, introduced the Committee’s amendment to delete text in the operative paragraph requesting the Council to consider the possibility of creating a new category of members within the Union for these organizations. Norway’s Ministry of Environment, India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, Germany’s Ministry of Environment, Nature and Nuclear Safety, and Environment and Conservation Organization of New Zealand expressed concern that if local and regional governments were allowed to become IUCN members, this would create conflict between national and local governments, as well as impede the voting process. A contact group was established to further consider this resolution.

On policy on control of animal populations for the purpose of biodiversity conservation (RES012), Gujarat Ecology Society and Defenders of Wildlife proposed withdrawing the resolution, noting that the issue of invasive alien species (IASs) is addressed in another resolution. The resolution was deferred for further consultation.

On genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and biodiversity (RES061), Environment Canada proposed substantial amendments to the preambular paragraphs. The resolution was deferred to a contact group for further discussion.

On Sturgeon (Acipenseridae) conservation within the Caspian Basin (RES077), Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that a moratorium on the catch and trade in Sturgeon will have a significant impact on Iran’s economy and requested to defer the resolution. The Center for Russian Environmental Policy, supported by Fundación Red Informatica Ecologista, highlighted the danger of extinction of Sturgeon. The resolution was deferred to a contact group.

On a moratorium on the further release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) (RES011-REV1), the Programme Committee expressed concerns over the feasibility of IUCN calling for a moratorium on the release of GMOs. Sweden’s Ministry of Environment and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they do not support a moratorium, preferring a case-by-case approach. Emphasizing the potential negative impact of GMOs on biodiversity and human health, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment, Energy and Mines, with several NGOs, expressed their support for a moratorium. Senegal’s Ministry of Environment and Sanitation proposed language on promoting information and communication on GMOs, especially in developing countries. The resolution was adopted as amended.

On community conserved areas (CCAs) (RES037-REV1), the Programme Committee called attention to the financial implications of this resolution and noted that it affects the mandates of three Commissions. Kenton Miller, WCPA Chair, supported by several NGOs from Latin America, proposed an amendment to an operative paragraph, which would allow communities to choose their inclusion within national and subnational systems of protected areas. Australian Conservation Foundation requested clarification on the amendment and consideration of the resolution was deferred.


Contact groups met throughout the day to discuss the following resolutions: Broadening the criteria for membership admission in the NGO category (RES003); The involvement of local and regional government authorities within IUCN (RES004); The Mediterranean Mountain Convention (RES008); Ratification and implementation of the revised African Convention (RES009); Protecting the Earth’s waters for public and ecological benefit (RES010); HIV/AIDS pandemic and conservation (Res013); Resource-based conflicts in Darfur, Sudan (RES034); Durban Action Plan and CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (RES035); IUCN Guidelines for protected areas management categories (RES036); Threats from Olympic Games and other major sport events to protected areas (RES040); Military activities and the production, stockpiling and use of weapons that are of detriment to the environment (RES043); The protection of seamounts, deep sea corals and other vulnerable deep sea habitats from bottom trawl fishing on the high seas (RES051); Environmental Protection of the Mediterranean Sea from the risk of maritime traffic (RES054); International cooperation on forest management (RES055); Governance of natural resources and ‘Good Governance’ for Sustainable Development (RES062 and RES063); Poverty relief, food security and conservation (RES064); Conserving nature and reducing poverty by linking human rights and the environment (RES065); On the role of conservation organizations in poverty alleviation and development (RES066); and Urgent measures to secure the survival of the critically endangered Western Gray Whales (RES076).

Contact groups also discussed the following recommendations: Creation of commissions on cooperation to achieve Sustainable Development (REC004); Application of the IUCN Sustainable Use Policy to sustainable consumptive utilization of wildlife and recreational hunting in Southern Africa (REC007); The Precautionary Principle in environmental governance (REC008); Nomination of large-scale multi-states serial World Heritage Routes (REC013); Inclusion of the Mont Blanc massif in UNESCO’s World Heritage List (REC014); European policy and biodiversity in overseas territories (REC016); Conservation and sustainable management of high seas biodiversity (REC017); The protection of seamounts, deep sea corals and other vulnerable deep sea habitats from bottom trawl fishing on the high seas (REC018); Conservation of Canada´s boreal forest (REC021); Financial institutions and the World Commission on Dams recommendation (REC024); Addressing the linkages between conservation, human and animal health, and security (REC025); Conservation needs of the Tiger (Panthera tigris/ Panthera pantheris) (REC030); Conservation of Saiga Antelope (Saiga tatarica tatarica) (REC031); Conservation of Dugong (Dugong Dugon), Okinawa Woodpecker (Sapheopipo noguchii), and Okinawa Rail (Gallirallus okinawae) in Japan (REC032); Shark finning (REC034); and Continued prohibition of shahtoosh production and trade (REC036).

Editor’s Note: IISD Reporting Service coverage focused on a limited number of contact groups.

MOTIONS FOR RESOLUTIONS: Protecting the Earth’s waters for public and ecological benefit: Facilitated by David Brackett, SSC, this contact group met in the afternoon to discuss the resolution (RES010) sponsored by Sierra Club, Cenesta, Friends of the Earth Paraguay, Tibet Justice Center, Friends of the Earth International and Al-Khat Al Akhdar.

Facilitator Brackett noted the concerns of the Programme Committee on this resolution, highlighting that the motion has significant programme and policy implications and expressing concern over the references to trade and investment related to the IUCN programme. He said the Resolutions Committee would further assess the implications of the resolution following the contact group meeting. The sponsor of the resolution provided an overview of several new amendments that concerned: trade and investment, previous IUCN resolutions on trade and investments, and water privatization. In the general discussion, several participants expressed concern over references to recognizing water as a human right, noting that this is not internationally-agreed upon language and that it interferes with the sovereign right of governments to manage their water resources. They expressed similar concerns with prescriptive language on trade and investment and on direct and meaningful participation of stakeholders in water-related decision making. Participants also said the focus on water access and services was a significant policy departure from the IUCN Water and Nature Initiative, which addresses the water and conservation nexus. The contact group amended the resolution to reflect the discussion. The amended resolution will be further considered by the Resolutions Working Group.

Guidelines for protected areas management categories: This contact group, facilitated by Joy Grant, The Nature Conservancy, discussed the resolution (RES036) sponsored by Australia’s Department of the Environment and Heritage, the Great Barrier Reef Park Authority, and Conservation International. Following deliberations and minor amendments, members agreed to language stating, inter alia, that the Congress requests the Director General and WCPA to undertake a review and update of the 1994 IUCN Guidelines, and to work with governments in the application and use of the IUCN protected areas management categories.

MOTIONS RELATED TO DEEP SEA ECOSYSTEMS AND HIGH-SEAS BOTTOM TRAWLING: This contact group, facilitated by Howard Powles, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, met in the afternoon to consider two motions (RES051 and REC018) relating to the protection of deep sea ecosystems from destructive fishing practices, including bottom trawl fishing, on the high seas, which were sponsored by a number of NGOs and a government ministry.

Discussions were based on a reformulated resolution text that was drafted in an informal working group, which met earlier in the day, and focused on two operative paragraphs containing requests to the Director General to call upon the UN General Assembly at its 60th and 61st sessions to consider or undertake action concerning destructive fishing practices.

The text concerning the call to the 60th session of the General Assembly relates to areas not covered by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and/or other management arrangements with the legal competence to manage bottom fisheries. Deliberations focused on whether to call upon the General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for an interim prohibition on high seas bottom trawling, or to call upon the General Assembly to consider the urgent adoption of such a resolution calling for an interim prohibition on high seas bottom trawling that may have adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The contact group agreed to forward both options to plenary for consideration.

The text concerning the call to the 61st session of the General Assembly relates to areas covered by RFMOs and other management arrangements. Deliberations focused on whether to call upon the General Assembly to adopt a resolution calling for the elimination of destructive fishing practices, and for an interim prohibition on bottom trawling, or to call upon the General Assembly to consider techniques and governance arrangements to eliminate destructive fishing practices including interim prohibitions on bottom trawling that may have adverse impacts on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The contact group agreed to forward both options to plenary for consideration.


In the afternoon, following the 32nd sitting of the Congress, members heard presentations by the candidates for IUCN President and Treasurer. IUCN Presidential Candidate Parvez Hassan (Pakistan) underscored his long-term service to the Union. He stressed the need for unity and the governance to achieve it, and said that as President he would take up as key challenges: diversification of IUCN�s membership representation and the broadening of its financial support base. He underscored the need for capacity building, particularly of youth, and suggested the creation of an IUCN Youth Academy. He also emphasized the need to address IUCN�s relationship with the private sector, noting that this should be undertaken with great care.

IUCN Presidential Candidate Mohammed Valli Moosa (South Africa) underscored the need for IUCN to be meaningful in the activities and programmes of all members and urged members to commit to strong and well-organized national committees to build national consensus on conservation. He also called for better infrastructure to service national and regional offices. Noting that the Commissions �provide the oxygen that IUCN breathes,� he urged for them to be adequately resourced and staffed, proposing that they be financed as part of the Union�s core budget. He called on members to unite in action to implement the 2005-2008 work programme and �unlock the energy that resides in the Union.�

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://enb.iisd.org>. 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.