Daily report for 14 November 2014
6th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC)
In the morning, participants attended three introductory plenaries on the thematic areas of the Congress: parks, people and planet. Afterwards, the eight stream sessions opened with panelists introducing respective sub-themes and announcing expectations for the coming days. An evening World Leaders’ Dialogue focused on “money matters” and the value of parks.
PARKS: Jonathan Baillie, Zoological Society of London, moderated the session, and presented on the future priorities for PAs, stressing the importance of understanding people’s needs in relation to PAs. He said the most pressing priorities are deciding which areas should be “off-limits,” improving management through modern technological innovations, and raising adequate finance to enable PA management.
In a keynote address, James Watson, Society for Conservation Biology, shared his “vision” on how PAs can contribute to conserving biodiversity, including that: global PAs should be “in the right places”; they should be part of a wider conservation plan; and should increase community and government support. He lamented that governments are at a resource-protection “crossroads,” with most locked into economic platforms that disregard the value of the natural environment.
In a panel discussion on personal experiences of the difference PAs have made in their lives, Greg Carr, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique, shared his experiences in recent restoration efforts in the park, emphasizing the importance of engaging with communities adjacent to PAs while protecting the integrity of park borders. He described natural recovery processes after 30 years of war and resource depletion, saying “we should not give up hope” since nature has a phenomenal capacity to “heal itself.”
Jorge Viana, Vice-President of the Federal Senate of Brazil, spoke of the state of Acre’s recovery after decades of illegal logging and crimes against traditional communities. He stressed the role of social movements’ and civil society’s involvement in restoring 12 million hectares of degraded forest land through the creation of “extractive reserves,” which allow sustainable harvesting by traditional extractive populations.
Russell Mittermeier, Conservation International, encouraged participants to integrate the conservation agenda with sustainable development, and warned that one of the biggest current threats to conservation are de-gazetting and downsizing of PAs.
Zuleika Pinzón, Panama Parks Service, shared her country’s conservation priorities, including: mobilizing financial resources through endowment funds; involving civil society organizations and the media in arresting PA downgrading; and advancing ecosystem and biodiversity monitoring techniques.
Gregory Andrews, Australian Threatened Species Commissioner, shared his country’s strategies to address threatened species conservation, including through increasing community support; accessing and mobilizing new avenues of financial resources; and policy development.
As priorities for future PAs, Beate Jessel, President, German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, highlighted capacity-building initiatives for individuals and institutions, and enhancing PA management effectiveness.
Well-known conservationist Harvey Locke reminded participants that humans need not despair about the future of conservation, as the last century saw a dramatic increase in PAs and recognition of the value of biodiversity.
PEOPLE: In a multi-generational conversation, Alan Latourelle, Parks Canada, and Daniela Benavides, conCIENCIA, Peru, shared experiences in connecting people to nature. Latourelle discussed employing a PA management approach that combines conservation with inspiring youth to become advocates for nature, stressing that fostering personal connections is critical for the long-term sustainability of PAs and for societal health. Benavides described her generation as visionary, collective, globally connected, and “self-starters.” She urged the PA movement “not to miss out on this collective energy.”
Simon Balderstone, International Olympic Committee, stated that “sport is a vehicle for transformative change.” He highlighted its benefits for improved health and how integrating sport into PAs can foster greater public engagement in parks. Luvuyo Mandela, Champion of WPC 2014, talked about reconnecting growing urban populations with wild places.
Leyla Aliyeva, Heydar Alyiev Foundation and International Dialogue for Environmental Action, Azerbaijan, described a range of projects, including: engaging 8,000 children in 20 cities in environmental projects; wildlife reintroduction; developing a text book that will help integrate environment into the country’s school curriculum; and partnering with artists to engage the public in a Caucasian leopard conservation campaign.
Sean Willmore, International Ranger Federation, spoke about the role of those working on the front line of park management in educating youth, inspiring the public, and sometimes risking their lives to protect natural heritage.
Alison Fox, American Prairie Foundation, described efforts to establish a 3 million-acre reserve for a native temperate grassland ecosystem, representing one of the most ambitious conservation projects in US history. She discussed ways of building a strong constituency and community support through: business partnerships with ranchers raising wildlife-friendly cattle; engaging adventure athletes in citizen science; and developing naturalist programmes for youth.
Frank Hugelmeyer, Outdoor Industry Association, US, noted two trends that provide both challenges and opportunities for PAs: the rapid urbanization of populations; and an increasingly digitized world. He stressed this requires a fundamental shift in PA thinking and approaches, including: developing a strategy for connecting to urban markets; developing experiential experiences; and embracing digital technology in marketing of PAs. Gil Penalosa, 8-80 Cities, Canada, argued that with aging and urbanizing populations, it is important to think how parks can be included in urban planning, and how PA systems can be strengthened to deliver health-related services.
Lucky Sherpa, Green Forum, Nepal, focused on people friendly parks, discussing successes of PAs established by and co-managed with indigenous peoples, and highlighting the integration of access and benefit sharing in park management. She stressed that consultation and community participation are the most effective conservation tools, and shared experiences with fostering communication between communities and parliamentarians in Nepal.
Cristiana Pasca Palmer, European Commission, summarized key messages from the session, and discussed the EU’s financial support to developing countries through the Biodiversity for Life initiative, which provides a cross-cutting approach to addressing biodiversity loss and poverty.
PLANET: Christopher Briggs, Secretary-General of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar), outlined the challenge of meeting basic water needs in the face of population growth, urbanization and inequitable distribution of freshwater resources. He called for activating private-sector funding models, promoting international cooperation on watershed and land-use issues, and restoring degraded wetlands. Briggs anticipated a global partnership for wetlands restoration with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), to be launched in 2015.
Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, said that biodiversity and ecosystem services are akin to municipal services, and are indispensable. She emphasized that solutions to environmental problems are achievable, and called for empowerment of communities to be at the centre of all development initiatives.
Jon Jarvis, Director, National Parks Service, US, asserted that parks are “the ultimate natural solution” to many issues, including health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. He urged participants to promote the relevance of parks to the public.
Kazuhiko Takeuchi, United Nations University, discussed the role of PAs in mitigating disasters. He highlighted the development of the Sanriku Fukko National Park in Japan after the March 2011 earthquake as part of the “green reconstruction” effort for strengthening interconnections between forests, rivers, the sea and “satoyama,” defined as socio-ecological production landscapes.
Lawrence Friedl, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said the ability to view the earth from space provides the environmental intelligence necessary for problem solving. He noted that NASA has publicly available datasets from its 17 satellites that monitor temperature, sea levels, rainfall, fires and other environmental conditions.
Enric Sala, National Geographic, stressed the importance of telling stories to inspire people to action. He presented National Geographic’s ‘Pristine Seas’ initiative, explaining the role of MPAs in enabling recovery of coral reefs, fish stocks and marine ecosystems, and noting that only 2% of oceans to date are protected.
Kevin Iro, Cook Islands Marine Park, introduced the large-scale park, known as Marae Moana. He emphasized youth involvement and education as a means of, “embedding into our future leaders the knowledge handed down from our forefathers,” and described traditional measures to establish seasonal “no-take” fishery zones.
Eduardo Mansur, Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), explained the organization’s interest in the role of PAs in supporting the sustainable management of natural resources for food and agriculture. In relation to these, he mentioned the contributions of genetic resources and crop wild relatives; participatory approaches, tenure and access rights; mountains and watersheds; and payments for ecosystem services, based on a landscape approach.
Summarizing the discussion, Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, said that conservation must be “a vital, working part of development” for local communities, adding that, “there is no post-2015 development framework without nature.”
Briggs read out highlights from a joint statement by Ramsar and UNCCD, which said that agricultural lands and wetlands are “two sides of the same coin,” and emphasized both organizations’ commitment to halting and reversing land degradation, including the return of 500 million hectares of abandoned farmland.
INTRODUCTION TO STREAMS AND CROSS-CUTTING THEMES
STREAM ONE: Reaching Conservation Goals: In view of the continuing decline and loss of species, speakers questioned whether PAs represent areas of importance for biodiversity and ecosystems, and if they are effectively and equitably managed. They observed that PAs may be too small, unconnected, and susceptible to threats of disease, invasive species and poaching. Speakers reported global achievement of 15.4% towards the 17% Aichi target for terrestrial PAs, and 8.4% towards its 10% target for MPAs. However, they noted that the latter mainly covers coastal waters, with only 2.6% of MPA located on the high seas, and suggested current targets are insufficient to reverse biodiversity loss trends.
STREAM TWO: Responding to Climate Change: Focusing on the connections between climate change, biodiversity and forests, panelists discussed, inter alia: impacts of environmental change on rural livelihoods and urban water security; role of youth in rehabilitation activities in Africa; a multi-stakeholder catchment management partnership in South America; the utility of benefits-oriented framing in attracting funding for biodiversity conservation; and using parks for awareness-raising on the impacts of climate change. One speaker explained that ecosystem restoration globally could help avoid 0.5°C of warming, and others emphasized the importance of communicating on climate change and biodiversity success stories in a language people can relate to.
STREAM THREE: Improving Health and Well-being: Focusing on the linkages between nature, and human health and well-being, speakers emphasized: the critical role of partnerships in integrating PAs into people’s lives, working with communities and businesses, and managing PAs; that PA managers need better tools to become viable partners of the health and medical community; and the importance of PAs in sustaining life. Other issues raised during the session included: challenges associated with lifestyle-related diseases and disconnection from nature; interlinkages between ecosystem health and the prevalence of chronic diseases; and the need to connect and communicate with the youth.
STREAM FOUR: Supporting Human Life: Panelists addressed the importance of protecting natural systems in order to maintain societal functions. They introduced the sub-themes of disaster risk reduction, water and food security, and presented on: the function of wetlands as purification and waste filtering systems; the role of PAs in reducing food security risks and eradicating hunger; and ways in which nature-based solutions serve to mitigate natural disasters and shocks. The role of small-scale farmers, community-based conservation, and technology and engineering advances were highlighted as critical to the future of PAs. Panelists further emphasized the need to mainstream biodiversity into the water security debate, and avoid expansion agricultural areas at the cost of natural ecosystems.
STREAM FIVE: Reconciling Development Challenges: This session focused on laying out the objectives and basic messages expected from the stream, which relate to: recognizing, accounting for and valuing the contribution of PAs to social and economic development; delivering opportunities-oriented and transformational solutions for the conservation community and the PA agenda; and encouraging the integration of PAs into national development policies. Stream leaders identified five key messages that are expected as outcomes from the stream, which aim at ensuring PAs are considered part of the economy, including on the need for: integrating PA values in economic decision-making frameworks; sufficient financing for PAs; and responsible investments and sustainable value chains.
STREAM SIX: Enhancing Diversity and Quality of Governance: The governance stream met to focus on consolidating and sharing progress on commitments made at the Durban WPC and by the CBD, and noted increased recognition by the CBD and other MEAs of the need to consider governance quality and diversity. Several presenters described distinctive features between management and governance, noting that management is about “what is done with natural resources” whereas governance is about “who makes decisions,” and how these decisions are made at various levels. Participants heard examples of community governance, including the experience of the Kawawana Fishermen’s Association, Senegal, in establishing sustainable utilization of fisheries.
STREAM SEVEN: Respecting Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Culture: Panelists explored issues related to indigenous rights and traditional knowledge, and integrating these into long-term partnerships that underpin PA management and contribute to the achievement of conservation goals. They discussed issues of justice, including the continued need to address displacement of traditional peoples and criminalization of livelihood activities within PAs. On rights of indigenous peoples, panelists underscored access and benefit sharing, and free prior and informed consent. For the Promise of Sydney, panelists urged focus on implementation. They stressed the role of indigenous people in the climate change and post-2015 development agendas, encouraging states to implement the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples Outcome Document.
STREAM EIGHT: Inspiring a New Generation: Participants discussed ways to connect with young people and reach out to children, and: stressed the need for youth to experience nature, children to be granted freedom in the outdoors, and young people to act as bridges between disconnected youth and the conservation community. Among the recommendations arising from this session were: supporting an evolution in the quantity and quality of entry points to jobs and livelihoods in nature and conservation in order to avoid insecurity and disengagement; bringing experiences of nature and parks close to people; and practicing “reverse mentoring” by listening to young people.
A Global Standard to Identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs): Results of a Global Consultation: Stream one considered the KBAs developed in response to the CBD’s call to conserve “areas of importance for biodiversity,” Aichi Target 11, and the request by the IUCN and its members for development of global standards. Presenters reported on the results of a global consultations to develop these standards and criteria. Participants broke into smaller groups to provide feedback on: criteria and thresholds; implementation of the KBA methodology; the application and end uses of KBA data; means of building from Important Bird Areas and other criteria; how KBAs relate to sites designated by other conventions; and the relationship between KBAs and systematic conservation planning. During the report back session, group facilitators reported on views and concerns of participants. On spatial and temporal aspects of KBA, participants: expressed concerns on whether “mobile KBAs” will be applied to migratory species; highlighted the risk of delineating large areas that would be difficult to manage; questioned the relevance of KBAs in dynamic sites; and noted that size of KBAs may influence the level of conservation planning. They further added that PA jurisdiction and governance issues are sensitive, citing examples from indigenous lands. Participants noted limitations of KBAs for marine and freshwater and for data-deficient species with narrow ranges of distribution, and noted complementarity of KBAs to the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.
WORLD LEADER’S DIALOGUES
Ante Up: Money Matters and the Value of Parks: The session opened with a World Business Council on Sustainable Development film clip explaining that natural resources should be accounted for on companies’ balance sheets. Moderator Jo Confino, Executive Editor of The Guardian newspaper, invited panelists to comment.
Inge Andersen, Director-General designate, IUCN, said that despite the progress of the conservation movement worldwide, financial investments are still insufficient to halt environmental degradation.
Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, said he disagreed with the view prevalent in the conservation community that financial valuation diminishes the spiritual value of nature.
Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, noted that addressing environmental challenges through a project-by-project approach is costly, and called for a systemic approach to parks and PA management at the national level.
Jochen Zeitz, Zeitz Foundation and the B Team, highlighted the importance of bringing businesses into the dialogue, considering that the world’s top 3,000 companies are responsible for one-third of all negative environmental impacts. He called for tools and incentives that will enable businesses to adopt more sustainable paths, including factoring in environmental externalities to raw materials, such as rubber, leather and cotton, which he said are priced far more cheaply than their synthetic alternatives.
Mark Burrows, Vice-Chairman, Credit Suisse, said his company’s joint research with WWF has indicated there is demand for financial instruments for investing in the environment. He recommended mobilizing pension funds and others with a long-term view of investment, comparing the current potential for green investments with the initial growth of Silicon Valley, saying the latter began to prosper when the rules governing pension funds allowed investment in information technology.
Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Australia, expressed pride in his country’s domestic water resource management approach, whereby “a sustainable pattern of abstractions goes to the highest-value users.” He called for greater involvement of the private sector in parks management, and for appropriate pricing of raw products at their source.
Guillermo Zúñiga, former Finance Minister, Costa Rica, cautioned against thinking of the environment as “a black box separate from development.” He highlighted the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Biodiversity Finance Initiative, and said that research shows many businesses are willing to invest in environmental objectives, such as waste management, better use of water resources and PA management.
Looking ahead to the next World Parks Congress in 10 years’ time, panelists hoped for a world that makes greater use of technology, spends less on military purposes, and in which natural capital is key to green growth. Steiner concluded that panelists’ comments had indicated that such a vision is “perfectly doable, and perfectly financeable,” and noted that the same logic of pricing raw materials to reflect environmental externalities would also demand the monetization of carbon.
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