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IUCN Congress Bulletin

Volume 39 Number 20 | Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The IUCN World Conservation Congress

Monday, 5 September 2016 | Honolulu, US

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

On Monday, participants attended the final day of the Forum, with events during the morning focusing on, among other things, ways of strengthening IUCN’s role in saving the world’s primary forests, and the role of World Heritage Sites in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (DRR). The afternoon sessions included a high-level dialogue on spirituality and conservation, and an evening event on conservation finance, highlighting lessons from the field.


This session, moderated by Stewart Maginnis, IUCN, focused on the IUCN Primary Forests Task Team and how it could, and should, add value to existing work on preserving primary forests.

Jim Thomas, Director, Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), presented a short video of their efforts to help conserve tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea. Brendan Mackey, Griffith University, outlined opportunities provided by the Paris Agreement for including emissions avoided from primary forest protection into national targets.

On tangible suggestions for IUCN’s work, Jean Thomas, TCA, emphasized the importance of secure land tenure, while Yunus Yumte, The Samdhana Institute, Indonesia, highlighted the potential of supporting national forest-related climate-change targets. Leonard Usongo, IUCN Cameroon, suggested taking advantage of IUCN’s convening power to discuss primary forest value among multiple stakeholders.

On challenges facing primary forest conservation, John Robinson, Wildlife Conservation Society, stressed that agriculture is the single largest driver of forest land conversion. Jeff Sayer, James Cook University, lamented that by obsessing over forest cover statistics, “we are forgetting that the quality and diversity of species is rapidly declining. Robinson and Sayer opined prevailing and future macroeconomics would always influence the state of forests.”

Ensuing discussions and group work suggested IUCN could, inter alia: help communicate the value of all primary forests, not just tropical forests; play a more active convening role to address national political barriers; and coordinate regional dialogues on how forests can be part of development agendas.


Glenn Dolcemascolo, UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, welcomed participants by saying that the conservation community’s uptake of the call of disaster risk reduction (DRR) is evident at the Forum.

Patrick McKeever, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), outlined that UNESCO has three site designations: World Heritage Sites; Biosphere Reserves; and Global Geoparks, many of which are vulnerable to at least one natural hazard. He cautioned that the world might not be prepared for larger disasters, especially those related to large volcanic eruptions.

Noting that most policy change towards eco-DRR occurs after disaster events, Radhika Murti, IUCN, argued for investment in prevention and risk reduction.

Shirish Ravan, the UN Platform for Space-based information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response, Beijing, explained that earth observation technologies can help achieve eco-DRR and ecosystem-based adaptation by providing critical data on ecosystems. Sha Chen, National Disaster Reduction Center of China, outlined that developing more heritage sites in northeast China may reduce drought disaster risk.

Vinod Mathur, Wildlife Institute of India, said the way forward for eco-DRR is to complete disaster risk assessments in all World Heritage Sites and provide training to managers in these sites to monitor disaster risk.

Discussions ensued on, inter alia, eco-DRR actions and disaster management plans in World Heritage Sites and communication thereof and integration of gender issues in eco-DRR projects.


Announcing the report, “Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences,” Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN, noted a projected warming of 1-4° by 2100, which she referred to as “tomorrow.” Dan Laffoley, IUCN, said the report covers microbes to whales, and all major ecosystems. “We are disrupting the rhythm of life in the ocean,” he said, noting: species’ distributions shifting toward the poles; and changes in foraging strategies and sex ratios.

Chip Cunliffe, XL Catlin, said the insurance industry needs better understanding of impacts of storms on sea level rise, adding that the report will help communities become more resilient. Carl Gustaf Lundin, IUCN, outlined key recommendations, including the need for: recognizing impact severity; global policy action; comprehensive protection and management; updated risk assessments and economic analysis; improved science; and reductions in greenhouse gases.

Panelists answered questions on, inter alia: kelp forests; deep sea drilling and mining; and government responses to ocean warming.


Erin Sexton, University of Montana, informed about the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem shared between Canada and the US. She explained how transboundary datasets support transboundary conservation and noted challenges of this fragmented landscape, including with regards to management, jurisdiction and ownership. Liz Berger, Pacific Southwest Region of the Forest Service, reported on the California Headwaters Partnership. Restoration of this regional area through collaborative efforts, she stressed, builds resilience and enhances carbon storage. Heather Stirratt, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, spoke about the Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands. She presented a new prioritization tool to enable cost-efficient restoration decisions, using identified targets and available monitoring data.

During the ensuing discussions, participants stressed as “key for implementation”: assessments, collective buy-in and funding.


Stuart Brooks, IUCN, opened the session on peatlands highlighting their value for: biodiversity; as environmental archives; paleo-archeology; water regulation; and for education, food and solitude. Brooks noted that: peatlands cover only 3% of global landmass, but store one third of all terrestrial carbon. Saying drained and degraded peatlands emit 6% of all anthropogenic CO2, Brooks noted Indonesia could meet its entire carbon reduction target by 2020 by simply not burning peat.

Jonathan Hughes, IUCN UK Peatland Programme, described nature-based restoration techniques, including re-seeding with sphagnum moss using youth volunteers, and outlined a goal of having 1 million ha of UK peatlands in good condition or under restoration management by 2020. On the need for increased funding, he noted the Peatland Code is intended to leverage private financing. Hughes underscored that restoration is feasible and that good guidance literature exists. He described a motion to IUCN focused on increasing the profile of peatlands and potential nature-based solutions within the UN framework conventions on climate change and biodiversity. 

The presenters answered questions on: EU policies on land-use changes; impacts from increased methane emissions after rewetting; and consumer education about valuable products from peatlands.


Simon Stuart, IUCN, underscored the collaborative efforts of the KBA partnership leading to the approval of the global standards by the IUCN Council in April 2016.

Stephen Woodley, IUCN, said the standards have enabled the WCPA to strategize on how best to assist countries to select sites that make the biggest difference for species conservation.

Annabelle Cuttelod, IUCN, outlined processes including workshops, working groups, interviews and consultations leading to completion and approval of the standards.

Jessica Boucher, University of Edinburgh, said consideration of end-users needs and concerns helped ensure the robustness and wide applicability of the standards.

Penny Langhammer, Arizona State University, emphasized that delineation of KBAs does not replace national protected areas or conservation priorities.

Moreno Di Marco, University of Queensland, reported that testing of irreplaceability of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) confirmed that IBAs are more irreplaceable than other areas.

Melanie Heath, BirdLife International, said her organization is managing the world database of KBAs, which currently has 18000 sites.

Kabelo Senyatso, Birdlife International, Botswana, showed the need to develop models to sustain KBAs through direct financing and co-management.

In ensuing discussions participants noted the need to ensure financial stability of KBAs and create synergies with international biodiversity processes on protected areas.


Moderated by Marie Parramon-Gurney, IUCN, this session considered factors relevant to the role of business in developing green, inclusive and resilient agricultural growth corridors in Africa. Ademola Ajagbe, Birdlife Africa, stressed “when you’re talking agriculture, you’re talking food. When you’re talking food, you’re talking life.”

Ruud Jansen, Executive Secretary, Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa, outlined their work with private companies in natural capital accounting, which recognizes the contribution of natural capital to economic growth. Julie Reneau, Nestlé Espresso, described their journey towards becoming environmentally and socially responsible for their supply chain, right down to farm level.

Stephanie O’Donnell, Flora and Fauna International, and Frineia Rezende, Votorantim Industrial, both described their work to help agricultural supply chains recognize the value of ecosystem services and the benefits and risks related to biodiversity. Andrea Athanas, African Wildlife Foundation, described practical examples, including ongoing negotiations with sugar producers operating in a key wildlife corridor in Southern Africa connecting a protected area and mountain range.

Milagre Nuvunga, Micaia Foundation, stressed the importance of, inter alia: partnerships between producers and NGOs; academic research; and increasing the visibility of good examples. Omer van Renterghem, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared his experience as a development partner and donor, and the recent shift towards a landscape approach.

Discussion focused on: companies’ violations of solid and wastewater management regulations; the importance of supporting medium-sized enterprises rather than just small and big businesses; the need for multi-stakeholder dialogue; and the value of environmental impact assessments.


Nathalie Olsen, IUCN, outlined the workshop’s aim to find common ground to move the natural capital debates forward. Penelope Figgis, IUCN, said everyone wants a more livable earth, but there are disagreements about how to achieve it.

Neville Ash, UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, said investments in natural capital can make other forms of capital more efficient and resilient. He emphasized the necessity for natural capital approaches to recognize: benefits; risks; and intended and unintended consequences for people and biodiversity.

Helen Crowley, Kering, emphasized that natural capital accounting helps build the case for bringing biodiversity into business by, inter alia: focusing attention where impacts are greatest; building awareness on the interface between business and nature; and providing a framework for comparing impacts and actions across companies.

Catie Burlando, IUCN, recalled the interdisciplinary group called for in the natural capital resolution to the IUCN, and said it would be a good space to discuss some of the controversies surrounding the concept, especially the impacts of not assigning monetary value to some natural resources.

Michael Wright, National Parks and Wildlife Service, New South Wales, said government environmental agencies need cross-sectoral information to support their funding case for conservation and that natural capital approaches support continued economic and social wellbeing.

Dani Rivera, Center for Amazonian Indigenous Development, Peru, highlighted that it is difficult for indigenous people to develop and understand natural capital as they don’t separate themselves from nature.

Discussions touched upon, among others: natural capital accounting methodologies; and the importance of spiritual capital. Gerard Bos, IUCN, wrapped up and said the natural capital concept is at a crossroads: the conservation movement can either embrace it, or continue internal debates that create confusion.


Kent Carpenter, Old Dominion University in Norfolk, reported progress of increased Red Listing of marine species from less than 200 species in 2006 to more than 12,000 by 2015, linking to actions such as inclusion on the US Endangered Species Act and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix listings.

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Marine Conservation Ecologist, explained population decline of mobulid ray due to international trade, highlighting the Fiji proposal to list all nine species in CITES Appendix 2.

Julia Lawson, IUCN, outlined the IUCN Strategic Species Conservation Planning process that involves identifying threats, as well as developing vision, actions, and goals and objectives. She cited examples for sawfish, mobulid rays and angelsharks.

A short video shared work of Nicholas Dulvy, IUCN, and Maria José Juan-Jordá, IUCN, on how the state of marine biodiversity in the high seas is a sentinel of ecosystem health.

Mark Stanley Price, IUCN, reflected on applying strategies from terrestrial conservation planning to the marine realm, including inputs from traditional knowledge systems.


Thomas Lovejoy, United Nations Foundation, reminded participants: “a global average temperature increase of 2 degrees above pre-industrial level is too much for ecosystems.” He drew attention to ecosystem restoration on a global scale as an effective strategy to capture CO2 back out of the atmosphere. He emphasized the need to explore every creative possibility to avoid biodiversity loss “before looking at biodiversity offsets.”

Robin Mitchell, The Biodiversity Consultancy, defined biodiversity offsets as “measurable conservation outcomes resulting from actions designed to compensate for significant residual adverse biodiversity impacts arising from project development after appropriate prevention and mitigation measures have been taken.” He explained “the goal is to achieve no net loss and preferably a net gain of biodiversity on the ground.” Emphasizing that biodiversity offsets are within a mitigation hierarchy, there is “a sequential process from avoidance, minimization and restoration before remaining impacts can be offset,” stressing the need for outcomes to be additional to a no-project scenario.

Stakeholder group discussions followed. Academia raised concerns around additionality, comparability, monitoring and enforceability. The private sector stressed the need for good governance and capacity building to ensure host countries support investments with biodiversity offsets. Noting transparency as an important principle, the government sector lamented lacking data to calculate offset value. NGOs cautioned that: the science is still incomplete; lack of trust remains; and companies should be required to pay mandatory reparations before biodiversity offsets should be entertained.


Miguel Calmon, IUCN, spoke about achieving the SDGs through forest landscape restoration, which contributes to achieving the following SDGs: 1 (poverty eradication); 2 (ending hunger); 5 (gender equality); 6 (access to clean water); 7 (access to renewable energy); 12 (sustainable consumption and production (SCP)); 13 (addressing climate change); and 15 (biodiversity).

Charles McNeill, UN Development Programme, spoke of maximizing synergies between nature conservation and the SDGs through: helping countries and communities find effective new ways to finance forest protection, sustainable management, and restoration; utilizing integrated landscape and seascape planning; recognizing and legitimizing the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities to own and manage the forest; transforming supply chains to promote deforestation-free commodities; greening production and consumption in the developing world; removing double subsidies for beef production; and creating conservation-relevant SDG indicators.

Lorena Aguilar, IUCN, highlighted the role of women in transitioning to SCP, noting that by 2028, women will be responsible for about two-thirds of consumer spending worldwide. Isis Alvarez, Global Forest Coalition, stressed the need to recognize the contributions from grassroots communities on achieving the SDGs, and especially the role of women.

Ruud Jansen, the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa, called for: incorporating the value of natural capital in public and private policies and decision making; and developing natural capital maps. Craig Groves, Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), presented SNAPP’s contribution to achieving the SDGs.


Inger Andersen, Director General, IUCN, introduced Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Hawaiian Spiritual Leader, who presented a traditional Hawaiian blessing.

Moderator Sally Ranney, American Renewable Energy Institute, introduced panelists. Father Robert Stark, Hawaiʻi, shared a video from the Vatican calling for “a change to unite,” to free us from the slavery of consumerism, and to care for our common home. Father Robert Agres, Hawaiʻi, shared examples of educational enterprises, saying “we are an integral part of the earth, and the earth is an integral part of us.”

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Argentina, called on participants to seek enlightenment, without imposing views on others, and forge ahead with an agenda of sustainability that values all life forms. Masami Saionji, The Goi Peace Foundation, spoke of connection through love and gratitude, urging all to shift from a culture of materialism to one of spirituality.

Reverend Peter Harris, A Rocha, shared a video and encouraged the conservation community to consider long-term fundraising to help us “come beyond the crossroads and turn it around.” Imam Muhammad Sirajuddin Syamsuddin, State Islamic University, Jakarta, shared Islamic perspectives, proposing that in order to overcome the “moral crisis” of consumerism, it is necessary to collaborate across all sectors, improve education and move from conservative theology to a progressive view.

Kanakaʻole Kanahele spoke of ceremony, kinship and wisdom, explaining how the IUCN WCC Opening Ceremony created a procedure to remember old wisdom as well as recall new events, “reaching into the realm of the unknown, and allowing the unknown to reach us.”


Gerard Bos, IUCN, moderated the session. Fabian Huwyler, Credit Suisse, defined conservation finance as investments or projects with positive conservation impacts and financial benefits. He emphasized the need to stimulate private investment to meet the required US$220-300 billion of climate finance per year. He noted the current investment of US$52 billion per year as not only deficient, but drawn mostly from the public sector.

Melissa Moye, World Wildlife Fund, US, said her institution’s focus is not-for-profit projects where impacts, particularly for communities, enhance long-term sustainability. She highlighted the Gorilla Conservation Coffee project in Uganda as an example of impact financing, which provides capacity building to develop a business model. Raphaël Billé, Restoration of Ecosystems Services against Climate Change Unfavorable Effects project, highlighted, among others, testing of payments for ecosystem services, market labels and offsets as means of increasing resilience in integrated coastal management in Pacific Islands.

Renaud Lapeyre, Institut du développement durable et des relations internationals, underscored the need for innovative financial mechanisms to meet the required US$9.2-85 billion per year to achieve Aichi Target 11 (protected areas). Malik Amin Aslam, IUCN, Pakistan, described efforts to catalyze the ruling party of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to successfully afforest through the Billion Tree Tsunami Initiative. He noted this afforestation has gained international recognition, including through the Bonn Challenge. In ensuing discussions, participants questioned the basis for climate finance investment figures discussed, noting their large range.