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Vth IUCN World Parks Congress

Durban, South Africa | 8-17 September 2003

Monday, 8 September

The Vth IUCN World Congress on Protected Areas, or World Parks Congress (WPC), opened on Monday, 8 September and will continue until Wednesday, 17 September, in Durban, South Africa. IUCN - The World Conservation Union organizes the Congress every ten years to take stock of protected areas (PAs), appraise progress and setbacks, and chart the course for PAs over the next decade. The theme of the 2003 WPC is "Benefits beyond Boundaries." Participants will address: the role of PAs in alleviating poverty; how PAs adapt and anticipate global change; PAs' place as part of our sustainable future; and their contribution to security.

Photo: Nelson Mandela, Formet President of South Africa and IUCN Patron

Welcoming all participants and guests, Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General and WPC Master of Ceremonies, highlighted the world's accomplishment in designating at least 10% of the earth's surface as PAs.


Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, stressed the need to protect natural ecosystems to preserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Drawing attention to the UN Millennium Declaration and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, he expressed the hope that globalization would become a positive force for the equitable distribution of resources. Identifying poverty and underdevelopment as major threats to nature conservation, he commended the New Partnership for Africa's Development for combining environmental and social goals.

Queen Noor, Jordan, and Patron of IUCN, with President Mbeki and Nelson Mandela

In her remarks, HM Queen Noor of Jordan underlined the WPC's relevance to the goals of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. She highlighted the role of ecosystems in sustaining livelihoods and of transboundary PAs in promoting peace and security. Stressing the need for transboundary PAs, she called for increased international cooperation.

Nelson Mandela and Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General (right)

Focusing on challenges for conservation, Nelson Mandela stressed the need to involve youth in PA management and to consider PAs' contribution to poverty alleviation. Highlighting projects empowering people and plans for transboundary PAs in southern Africa, he noted that a sustainable future for PAs lies in developing partnerships.


A youth representative noted that PAs are sacred places important for life on earth. She added that PAs enhance socioeconomic development and preserve cultural activities. Noting that African youth lack not interest but opportunities, she called for funding youth programmes related to nature conservation. Another youth representative stressed PAs' contribution to economy, recreation, education, medicine and ecotourism. He called on present generations to better manage PAs for the benefit of future generations.

Klaus T�pfer, UNEP Executive Director, delivered a message from Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General. Noting the vital services provided by ecosystems, T�pfer highlighted the need to: address the isolation of PAs; ensure adequate funding for protection; protect the rights of indigenous people; and equitably share the benefits of biodiversity. Noting the economic dependency on marine resources in coastal areas, he said protection of the oceans had so far been neglected.

Ian Johnson, Vice President, World Bank, read a statement on behalf of James Wolfensohn, World Bank President. Regarding the management of PAs, he emphasized three challenges: ensuring that protected areas are ecologically and socially sustainable; providing adequate human and financial resources; and equitability sharing the costs and benefits from PAs. Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister of the Environmental Protection Administration of China, said that PAs cover over 15% of China, and outlined his country's efforts regarding PAs, including the creation of plans and regulations for PAs' establishment and management, international cooperation for transboundary areas, and recognition of the relationship between PAs and the surrounding communities. He said challenges include weak management, insufficient funding, conflicts between stakeholders and the lack of a comprehensive legal framework. Len Good, Chief Executive Officer, Global Environment Facility (GEF), stressed that developing countries and the poor depend on nature for their development. Highlighting that the GEF is the largest financial contributor to PAs, he noted several GEF-funded projects related to PAs worldwide, and expressed the GEF's commitment to strengthening the global PA network.

Yolanda Kakabadse, IUCN President, outlined challenges for managers of PAs regarding: mobilizing resources; linking PAs to adjacent lands; involving interested groups in decision making; supporting indigenous communities; and distributing benefits to society. She said threats facing PAs include climate change, armed conflicts and invasive alien species, and stressed the need for solutions to cover the costs of establishing and managing PAs and for gaining the support of urban people.

Aroha Te Pareake Mead, indigenous community representative, stressed the significance of PAs for indigenous peoples. Emphasizing the importance of cultural diversity, equity and justice, she advocated the recognition of indigenous rights and views with regard to the designation and management of PAs.

The African Story Line: A theatrical performance presented to delegates

World Parks Congress
Programme for the World Parks Congress
Workshop Streams and Cross-cutting Themes

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