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.
Summary report 3–11 September 2021
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.