Photo courtesy of Kiara Worth

IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020

3–11 September 2021 | Marseille, France, and Online


As the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, the IUCN Congress successfully highlighted the planet's dual existential crises: climate change and biodiversity collapse. Members adopted the Marseille Manifesto, also reflective of the role and rights of indigenous peoples in conservation.

Final report

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Photo courtesy of Kiara Worth
Photo courtesy of Kiara Worth

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress focused on nature-based recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, negotiated under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Congress was structured around seven main themes: landscapes; freshwater; oceans; climate change; rights and governance; economic and financial systems; and knowledge, innovation, and technology.  On the first day of the Congress, four Summits were held: the World Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nature; the Global Youth Summit; the IUCN Local Action Summit; and the IUCN CEO Summit.

Held once every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, Indigenous Peoples organizations, the private sector, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and promoting nature-based solutions to global challenges. IUCN held its Congress in Marseille, France, in a hybrid (in-person and virtual) format. It was the first major environmental event held in a hybrid format since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

IUCN is a membership Union of more than 1,400 organizations, including more than 18,000 experts. The Union’s collective experience, expertise, and commitment have made IUCN a leading global authority on environmental and conservations issues.

The IUCN Congress has three main components:

  • The Members’ Assembly, IUCN’s highest decision-making body, takes decisions on pressing conservation and sustainable development issues, which, although not legally binding, often pave the way for relevant recommendations in multilateral environmental fora;
  • The Forum, which includes more than 600 sessions on the economic, social, scientific, and technical aspects of issues covering the thematic areas of the Congress, ranging from high-level dialogues to training and capacity building sessions, as well as exhibitions and social events; and
  • The Exhibition, in which IUCN Members, partners, and others showcase their research and innovations, hosting pavilions, booths, and events for both Congress participants and the general public, reaching a broader audience.

IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2020 was originally scheduled to take place from 11-19 June 2020 in Marseille, France. Due to the extraordinary situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it took place in a hybrid format from 3-11 September 2021. A few events were held only virtually, while many in-person events were also livestreamed. The Congress attracted more than 1,000 in-person participants, representing 160 countries and included more than 1,300 interactive sessions.

Funding for Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 has been provided by IUCN.



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