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IUCN Congress Bulletin

Volume 39 Number 19 | Monday, 5 September 2016

The IUCN World Conservation Congress

Sunday, 4 September 2016 | Honolulu, US

Visit our IISD/ENB+ Meeting Coverage from Honolulu, US at:

On Sunday, participants attended the Forum for the third day, engaging with a variety of conservation issues, including an update on the IUCN’s Red List, managing ecosystems to reduce risks to disasters, managing conflicts between business and civil society over the use of natural resources, and a high-level event on actions required for a sustainable ocean. In the evening participants attended events on gender-responsive financing for the global environment and the IUCN Green List that aims to raise the standard for a new generation of protected and conserved areas.


In a press conference, Jane Smart, IUCN, explained that the IUCN Red List catalyzes action by providing information. Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN, announced updates to the Red List: the Eastern Gorilla has moved to Critically Endangered; of the 415 endemic Hawaiian plants assessed, 87% are threatened; the Giant Panda and Tibetan Antelope status improved due to conservation; and the Plains Zebra moved to Near Threatened.

Carlo Rondinini, Sapienza University of Rome, named main drivers of decline in species as habitat destruction and illegal hunting, adding that conservation works but needs to be scaled up. Matthew Kier, Laukahi: The Hawaiian Plant Conservation Network, shared efforts in Hawaiʻi to combat invasive species through partnerships, awareness raising and improved biosecurity.

Simon Stuart, IUCN, shared: optimism from Panda and Antelope recovery in China; respect for recovery efforts in Hawaiʻi; and enthusiasm due to the fourth renewal of the Red List Partnership.


Camille Buyck, IUCN, opened the session which included the launch of the book “Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and adaptation: Linking science, policy and practice.”

Fabiola Monty, IUCN, highlighted case studies, including: land use planning to reduce risk of avalanches; community-based mangrove restoration to reduce inundation risk after shrimp farm deforestation; and community engagement, including building on traditional knowledge and practices.

During discussions, chapter authors and panelists highlighted, inter alia: scaling up implementation from local, to a landscape and ecosystem level; catalyzing investments and partnerships; addressing gaps in Eco-DRR in previous publications; underscoring the importance of sand dune restoration for risk reduction; differentiating between tools and approaches for DRR; and identifying the “no regrets” benefits of restoration, protection and natural resource management.

On engaging local communities, suggestions included: asking what species should be selected for reforestation; allowing time to build trust at the local level; focusing on culturally important ecosystem services, for example, sites that could be used for water retention; and the importance of involving and educating local governments, especially with regard to land-use planning.

On public awareness, highlights included: use of social media; public awareness surveys regarding specific aspects of DRR, such as perceptions of vulnerability; the relationship between DRR and ecosystems; and individual responsibility to mitigate risk.


Nigel Crawhall, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, stressed the need for: designing a rights-based framework, compliance, and dialogue; bringing different stakeholders together in norm-setting; and finding solutions that are fair, equitable, and generous. Myrna Semaan, Friends of Nature, Lebanon, spoke about her work on the Horsh Ehden Nature Reserve. She highlighted the importance of engaging youth by relating their habits with forest conservation activities, and presented a campaign created for all segments of the society. Kem Lowry, University of Hawai’i, discussed developing a strategy for the future of water in Hawai’i, highlighting the need to provide incentives for all stakeholders to work together in finding solutions. Jennifer Clare Mohamed-Katerere, IUCN, outlined the role of citizen juries, comprised of citizens excluded from the process of designing agricultural policies on genetically modified crops in Andhra Padresh, in engaging with the private sector. This, she noted, has led to a depressurization of communities from accepting genetically-modified organisms outright.

Juan Carlos Sanchez, IUCN, presented work in the Sixaola River Basin, Costa Rica, where monocultures have had an impact on the region’s rich biodiversity. He called for focusing on cooperation as a facet of conflict rather than trying to eliminate conflicts, as they are inherent. Mary Walker, Independent Barrister, spoke about reaching sustainable solutions through effective negotiations and presented case studies on toxic waste depots, a copper smelter, and a nuclear reactor.


This session, introduced by Stewart Maginnis, IUCN, called for nature-based solutions to play a central role in climate change, conservation, DRR and development action.

The first panel was moderated by Andrew Steer, President, the World Resources Institute. UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Dias welcomed the adoption of the Sendai framework for DRR, which formally recognizes the role nature plays in disaster vulnerability. Jesca Osuna Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General, East African Community, outlined nature-based solutions throughout East Africa in, inter alia, agriculture, water management and renewable energy.

Humberto Delgado Rosa, European Commission, stressed the need to adopt terminology that wider audiences can understand. On scaling up nature-based solutions: Naoko Ishii, the GEF, stressed the need to leverage private sector support; Dias highlighted the recently adopted Brazilian forest code; and Eriyo saluted extensive reforestation in East Africa under the Bonn Challenge.

The second panel was moderated by Edmund Barrow, IUCN. Julia Bucknall, World Bank, opined it is often more effective to directly approach energy, transport and agriculture sectors – rather than finance – to implement viable nature-based solutions. Ashok Khosla, Development Alternatives, emphasized the enormous social, cultural and economic returns of nature-based solutions. Lynda Mansson, the MAVA Foundation, explained the benefits of not necessarily framing nature-based solutions as environmental, but rather achieve “greenery by stealth”.

Paul Trianosky, Sustainable Forestry Initiative, outlined their work building bridges between profit and non-profit sectors to deliver nature-based solutions at the landscape scale.


Judy Fisher, IUCN, moderated an interactive discussion on Indigenous Peoples’ relationships with forests, encouraging participants to provide input for the Hawaiʻi Challenge of Invasive Species announcement this evening.

Lori Buchanan, Molokai/Maui Invasive Species Committee, reflected on bridging tangible western science with intangible traditional knowledge systems, sharing successful eradication of an invasive species. She said First Nations people are indicators of the health of the earth, and should be protected as native species.

Danielle Flakelar, New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Australia, a Ngiyampaa Wayilwan and Wakka Wakka Aboriginal, shared her background and outlined a way forward by: involving Indigenous Peoples in informed decision-making, policy and evaluation; recognizing First Nations people as rights holders in legislation; and implementing Foundation Law by governments, industry and community.

Desmond Purcell, Gidarijil Development Corporation Australia, spoke of experience of using fire to promote regeneration of native species in his native land.

 During ensuing discussions, participants, inter alia: shared strategies from respective regions; exchanged support for the revival of traditional knowledge systems; highlighted opportunities to support future protection; and urged for natural heritage and cultural heritage to stay as one.

On providing input for the Hawaiʻi Challenge of Invasive Species announcement, participants agreed to forward a statement: Empower First Nation’s people by recognizing their traditional ecological knowledge in legislation, to inform decision making, participation, policy, evaluation and outcomes of the management of invasive species in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


The session launched the ‘Adapting to Climate Change Guidance for Protected Area Managers and Planners.’ Recognizing that protected areas provide natural solutions to address climate change and its associated effects, the guide outlines essential adaptation elements with a focus on strategies, options, and useful resources.

Kathy MacKinnon, IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, underscored the usefulness of the guidelines and reported talks with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) representatives about translating, using and developing training based on the guidelines.

Jonathan Jarvis, Director, US National Park Service, informed about the process under which National Park Service asserted its role on climate change issues, including mitigation, communication, science, and adaptation. He called for focusing on, inter alia: how to utilize protected areas to help larger ecosystems adapt to climate change; the resilience of nature; and green rather than gray infrastructure as an adaptation strategy to respond to hurricanes.

Julia Miranda Londoño, Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia, reported on Colombia’s climate change actions and policies at all levels of governance, including those focusing on enlarging the system of protected areas. She noted Colombia’s inclusion of protected areas in its national determined contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Trevor Sandwith, IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, emphasized climate change is not just a threat to protected areas but an opportunity for nature based solutions. He said the guidance provides practitioners with tools for action on the ground, noting agencies from various areas – including protected areas, agriculture and disaster management – will need to be involved.


Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN opened the session, chaired by Ashok Khosla, Development Alternatives Group. Khosla said the IUCN was one of the first organizations to start thinking about the issue of equity, fairness, and social justice.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, presented the Report on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She emphasized that full recognition of indigenous land rights and participation are key enabling conditions for sustainable conservation. John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, said States are “utterly failing” to protect the rights of expression and association of environmentalists and land defenders, outlining obligations to protect against foreseeable environmental harm to human rights.

Martha Rojas-Urrego, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention, said “conservation can allow for the realization of rights and those rights can help effective management of water.” Marco Lambertini, Director General, WWF International, said “we need nature and nature needs us today more than ever.”

Rosemary Ahtuangaruak, Inupiaq people of Alaska, said over 100 Alaskan villages are facing relocation, and their inhabitants live in third world standards due to fossil fuel exploration and climate change. Sanjay Kabir Bavikatte, The Christensen Fund, noted that, in order to achieve biocultural rights, it is necessary to look at the resilience of the communities that have sustained ecosystems and support these stewards of the land.


Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN, opened the two-panel session on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), saying an insufficient amount of ocean has been protected. Kamana‘opono Crabbe, CEO, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, shared a mele oli (Hawaiian chant) about Kanaloa, the Hawaiian god of the sea.

Kathryn Sullivan, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and former astronaut, recalled seeing oceans from space and wondering about the impacts of materials carried by rivers into the oceans. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue, noted advances in understanding the oceans, asking, “How much of the world should we be protecting? How about all of it?”

Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary, CBD, cited the Territorial Use Rights for Fishing to help achieve more sustainable fisheries. Sandra Bessudo, Fundación Malpelo, reviewed MPAs in the Eastern Pacific, including programmes on education, ecotourism, illegal fishing, and research and monitoring. Panelists responded to questions on reducing demand for ocean resources and ways to better communicate about oceans to current and future generations.

The second panel focused on governance, and environmental and economic sustainability. Former President Anote Tong, Kiribati, stressed the interaction between climate change and oceans, and invited support for a plan to raise the coastline of islands in response to sea level rise.

Catherine Novelli, US Undersecretary of State on Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, said economic alternatives to overfishing are needed and that current trends will lead to more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. Humberto Delgado Rosa, European Commission, said offshore oceanic development areas could be designated as “no-take zones” for fisheries. Moderator Aulani Wilhelm, Island Water, observed that local MPAs that protect tuna also protect food for the planet. Panelists addressed questions related to a universal definition for “blue economy” and how to better inspire ocean protection.

Nainoa Thompson, Master Navigator, Polynesian Voyaging Society, closed the session with a tribute to his teacher and master navigator Mau Piailug, saying he wouldn’t have understood the use of percentages: “If it’s what you love, you protect it all.”


PART I: Daudi Sumba, Wildlife Foundation, moderating the session, cited the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as a major driver of Africa’s transformation, aiming to build an “integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa.”

Matt Jones, UNEP, reported that 20% of Africa’s land area is under oil and gas concessions; majority of which are Chinese-led. The challenge, he said, is the major overlap with protected area networks.

Lori Anna Conzo, International Finance Corporation, underscored the promotion of environmental safeguards in Africa through the Sustainable Banking Network, which supports information sharing.

Helga Rainer, Arcus Foundation, reported impacts of extractive industries on Great Ape conservation, noting the need to mitigate indirect impacts such as degradation due to population influx. Participants called for greater involvement of civil society to ensure accountability.

PART II: Jeff Sawyer, Cairns University, moderated, noting that China is changing the way it is investing in Africa. Stewart Maginnis, IUCN, observed China is the fourth largest investor in Africa after the US, UK and France.

Lingfei Weng, Tsinghua University, explained that the suspension of the Chinese iron concession in Mbalam, Cameroon, occurred due to: reduced interest in mineral extraction; concerns about environmental degradation; and an inability to demonstrate local community benefits. Citing the China-Africa Cloud Conservation Initiative, Yan Zhang, IUCN China, showed diverse ways Chinese companies promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

Nan Li, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) China, said twelve companies managing four million hectares of concessions in Africa have agreed to protect wildlife and improve labor conditions. Leonard Usongo, IUCN Cameroon, noted that the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg in 2015 provided an opportunity to influence and determine pathways of investments that address environmental impacts.


Presenting a “chat-show” style session, Jodi Chew and Sherry Hazelhurst, US Forest Service, asked US Forest Service employees questions on how forest conservation practices have changed over time. They split the group into team “Saplings,” comprised of younger employees Fabian Garcia, Nadia Tase and Heather McMillen, and the older “Sentinels” team, comprised John Crockett, Flint Hughes and Jeanne Wade-Evans.

On why they started working with the US Forest Service, the contestants highlighted their desire to, inter alia: work in line with their sustainability values; work with disadvantaged youth; and be able to work outdoors and sleep under the stars.

The Saplings pointed out the importance of working with urban communities, “as 60% of the world will be living in urban areas by 2050.” On ecosystem services, the Sentinels reminisced that forests used to be known primarily for timber and wildlife to hunt, while the Saplings highlighted more recently recognized ecosystem services include carbon, clean air, clean water and fertile soil.

On climate change, both teams recognized a definite shift towards integrating climate change into the Service’s management and practice over the past 12 years. On fire management, contestants emphasized the challenges of appropriate fire management, especially with recent longer and drier fire seasons.


Lorena Aguilar, IUCN, noted that for the first time, all major financing mechanisms have gender mandates, and that 40% of the current162 NDCs under the Paris Agreement explicitly mention “gender” and/ or “women” in the context of their national priorities and ambitions for reducing emissions.

Amy Fraenkel, CBD, shared the CBD recent adoption of a new gender plan through 2020, which contains gender actions CBD parties should implement as part of their commitments. Anne Kuriakose, Climate Investment Funds, stressed the need for: linking efforts of international institutions with national plans; and increasing local governments’ participation in institutional development in order to promote gender institutional change.

Yoko Watanabe, the GEF, said each institution should: have a designated gender focal point; undertake gender analysis for project preparation; and have a full-time team to ensure that relevant policies are being designed and implemented. Ana Maria Currea, the GEF, reported the development of indicators to track progress on gender-sensitive policies with national teams having gender focal points to oversee gender mainstreaming on the ground.

Doley Tserling, UNDP, presented the UNDP’s Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017. Birguy Lamizana, UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), presented the work of UNEP’s Gender Team on gender mainstreaming.

Kame Westerman, Conservation International, said donors require gender mainstreaming in projects. Jeannette Gurung, Executive Director, Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & Natural Resource Management, spoke about standards and certification systems that measure and reward valuable gender projects.


Kathy MacKinnon, IUCN, opened the session saying the Green List was “born, incubated and nurtured” within the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), and will raise the standard of protected area governance.

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng noted that the Green List initiative presentation at this meeting is timely, citing the recent designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as the world’s largest ecologically protected area.

Trevor Sandwith, IUCN, outlined the Green List as: a global standard for conservation success; adaptable to the local context of any country or region; a voluntary commitment and incentive measure to improve performance; a credible, independently assured evaluation procedure; and a global recognition for protected areas and their staff. 

Julia Miranda Londoño, National Parks, Colombia, outlined the benefits of being a part of the Green List and his country’s commitment to maintain a high standard. Michael Wright, National Parks and Wildlife Service, New South Wales, committed to include three protected areas and nominate more for future listing.

Zhiyun Ouyang, Chinese Academy of Science, highlighted that the conservation management of China’s 8,000 protected areas would improve from Green Listing. Tamar Kvantaliani, Georgia Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, said her Ministry recognizes the contribution the Green List will make to improve governance and management of protected areas. Masahito Yoshida, IUCN-WCPA underscored that the emphasis of Aichi Target 11 (protected areas) is on governance and connectivity of protected areas with surrounding landscapes.