Daily report for 2 September 2016

2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress Planet at the Crossroads

On Friday, the second day of the IUCN WCC, participants attended the first day of the Forum, during which they focused on exploring solutions to some of the planet’s most pressing conservation and sustainability challenges.


Prince Charles, via video message, said “pupukahi i holomua – we must unite to move forward,” followed by a Hawaiian blessing ceremony. Alison Sudol, IUCN Goodwill Ambassador, said there is no singular problem or singular solution.

Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General, said the IUCN’s role is to raise awareness about the planet being at a crossroads. Tom Friedman, New York Times, highlighted that “one person can kill all of us and all of us can fix everything.”

Brooke Runnette, National Geographic Society, shared efforts to empower people and create a community of change. Hong Youngpyo, Republic of Korea, reviewed progress since the 2012 WCC, saying that “we can choose a path of co-existence or no existence at all.”

Andersen moderated a panel discussion on actions. Sally Jewell, US Secretary of the Interior, urged moving from “selling” natural resources to payment for ecosystem services, articulating the value of indigenous knowledge and biocultural conservation. Peter Bakker, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, discussed clarifying scientific messaging and scaling up solutions.

Irina Bokova, UNESCO, emphasized science as a development multiplier. Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UNEP, reiterated calls for payment for ecosystem services, and enshrining benefits in economic and social terms. Naoko Ishii, the GEF, spoke of catalyzing systematic change to protect global commons.

Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, argued that protecting half the planet’s land and oceans is necessary and feasible. Alejandro del Mazo Maza, National Commissioner for Natural Protected Areas, Mexico, shared successes and announced efforts to protect the Meso-American Barrier Reef.


Andersen introduced this session, which was moderated by Friedman. Panelists discussed, inter alia: economic and security risks posed by climate change; the valuable role of ecosystems and biodiversity to combat climate change; and other co-benefits of protecting nature and empowering women.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa foresaw an early entry into force of the Paris Agreement and noted her focus on: developing tools to make it operational, including rules on transparency; strengthening structures to support developing countries; and mobilizing actors for action on the ground. Ambassador for the Environment, France Xavier Sticker, France, reported his government’s efforts to ensure Paris Agreement commitments will be honored and strengthened “with ecosystem protection in mind.” Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu noted climate change as a security issue and emphasized the extreme vulnerability of Atoll Nations and small island developing States.

Ramsar Convention Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego underscored the huge carbon storage potential of peatlands conservation. Noting differentiated gender vulnerabilities to climate change impacts, she called for empowering women to catalyze success for climate change action.

Reminding that climate change is a challenge for both society and industry, Tom Butler, International Council on Mining and Metals, stressed the importance of partnerships among various actors and the benefits of holistic water and landscape management.

Highlighting the multiple benefits of the Rio Conventions, Peter Seligmann, Conservation International, called for increased investment in nature conservation. He noted the need to provide business and government with tools to measure the impacts of their actions.


Moderator Anna Tira‘a, IUCN, said the session’s purpose was to solicit guidance and identify opportunities for international commitments on invasive species work. Braulio Dias, Executive Secretary, CBD, highlighted the need for: enhanced support for developing nations; legal measures to prevent new species introductions; and improved information dissemination.

Piero Genovesi, Chair, Invasive Species Specialist Group, IUCN, emphasized the need for global data to: drive progress on prevention; identify high-risk species; and focus actions geographically. Regarding the Global Invasive Species Database, he highlighted information about introduction pathways; the impact on “red-listed” species; regional vulnerabilities; and prioritizing species to invest in control measures.

Christy Martin, Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species, Hawai‘i, focused on capacity raising for prevention, early detection and response, and outreach. She highlighted the need for: increased political will; more NGO partnerships; learning networks; legal assistance for legislative research; regional commitments to spur action; and training for biologists as outreach messengers.

Alan Tye, IUCN, emphasized guidelines for comprehensive, realistic and prioritized plans, using the Pacific guidelines for invasive species management as a model. He outlined: foundations (assuring support, capacity and laws); problem definition and prioritization (data collection, risk assessment, and species-specific research); and management actions on biosecurity, established invaders and restoration.

Participants met in break-out groups on capacity, guidelines, and data management to provide input to IUCN for future action. In closing, Genovesi invited participants to identify potential champions for commitments to push progress on invasive species.


During this press conference, participants heard a presentation on the great elephant census results, a Paul G. Allen Family Foundation Project using modern technology to better inform decision makers and influence behavioral change. Key areas identified for action included: establishing and enforcing domestic policies, laws and regulations reducing both the supply and demand side of ivory markets; passing the related IUCN resolution; and laying the groundwork for similar resolutions at the upcoming CITES meeting in Johannesburg. During the ensuing discussions, participants learned about: challenges for the passing of resolutions, including that some EU member states are on the defense on this issue; existing disagreement around sustainable harvesting of ivory; and cautioning against broadening the CITES mandate so as to address domestic actions. Recognizing the importance of climate change on the mortality of elephants, some voiced interest in future modeling efforts that would incorporate effects of droughts.


Ishii said the way to transform the economic system is to change the way the private sector sees the value of nature. Fabian Huwyler, Credit Suisse, stressed the need to capture millenials’ needs because they are a generation of investors with an increased interest in nature. Camilla Seth, JPMorgan, noted that the number of unpredictable high cost ecosystem risks are increasing, thus understanding the risks of vulnerable ecosystems is a vital entry point for sustainable finance. Christy Goldfuss, White House Council on Environmental Quality, said “we are ripe and rich” for partnerships as there is not enough public funding for conservation. Stephan Opitz, KfW Development Bank, noted that public funding should support private companies to move and expand into new eco-friendly sectors.

Terry Tamminen, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, said the Foundation supports NGOs that work on demystifying conservation projects to open them up for private investors. Dale Galvin, Rare, stressed the need to create a wide-spread conservation ethic by cultivating and catalyzing behaviors that value nature to create new social norms. Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy, announced the launch of the Coalition for Private Investment in Conservation, comprised of NGOs, multilateral institutions, investors, and banks. John Tobin, Cornell University, highlighted the need to create investable blueprints for transaction that generate both environmental and financial returns. Closing the meeting, Andersen underlined the importance of multi-stakeholders’ coalitions for scaling up valuable projects.


Simon Stuart, IUCN Species Survival Commission, chaired the meeting. Annabelle Cuttelod, IUCN Global Species Programme, reported that the KBA standards approved by the IUCN Council in April 2016 would be launched at this congress.

Saw Htun, Wildlife Conservation Society, Myanmar, shared experiences of KBA gap analysis in supporting protected area expansion in Myanmar. He reported on, inter alia: landscape approaches for conservation of Chin Hill complex; and co-management to enhance elephant populations in Rakine Yoma range.

Zoltan Waliczky, Birdlife International, reported on use of KBA standards to identify critical natural habitats under pressure from the development sector. He showed how mining exploration overlaps with important biodiversity and cultural sites, and recommended strengthening environmental safeguards.

Paul Matiku, Nature Kenya, presented on monitoring of Important Bird Areas in Kenya. He described opportunities of involving local communities in monitoring status, pressures and responses to conservation measures.

Olivier Langrand, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, explained how his organization has used KBAs to guide conservation investment in over 6,000 multi-taxa KBAs in 16 hotspots since 2003.

Mark Zimsky, the GEF, said KBA standards justifies the selection of important biodiversity areas for protected area expansion, supported by the GEF.

Discussions continued in groups on: protected area gap analysis; mainstreaming biodiversity and development; application of environmental safeguards; and guiding conservation investments.


Jane Smart, IUCN, announced a partnership with Toyota to fund the expansion of the Red List of Threatened Species, sharing aspirations to go from 80,000 species assessed to 160,000. Tom Stricker, Vice President, Toyota, shared the corporate history behind the interest in this partnership.

CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias, clarified that main users of biodiversity are businesses, describing actions taken to further engage that community. US Ambassador Judith Garber outlined holistic approaches to increase partnerships with the private sector to meet conservation goals.

Hesiquio Benitez Diaz, Director General, CONABIO, Mexico, discussed mainstreaming biodiversity in production sectors, underscoring that better knowledge will lead to better decisions.

Panelists also discussed shareholder engagement, including: Stricker noted the appeal in long-term planning and brand differentiation; Dias reported co-benefits such as waste reduction and efficiencies; and Diaz called for good indicators to understand decisions on biodiversity.


This session, moderated by Carl Gustaf Lundin, IUCN, focused on how participants can build coalitions, provide input to international processes and learn from exemplary ongoing work in conserving the high seas. Dan Laffoley, IUCN, emphasized the impact of climate change on oceans, noting around 93% of enhanced warming to date has been absorbed by oceans. Nilufer Oral, IUCN, outlined ongoing progress and challenges in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) implementing the agreement on Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction. She said key areas that still need to be clarified include Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the high seas, capacity building and marine technology transfer.

David Freestone, Sargasso Sea Commission, outlined a high seas MPA in the Sargasso Sea, and called for a more coordinated framework that recognizes the cumulative impact of sectoral activities. David VanderZwaag, University of Dalhousie, talked about conserving central arctic high seas and ongoing negotiations among the five Arctic coastal states. Winnie Lau, Pew Charitable Trust, described the ‘Eyes on the Seas’ project, an enforcement tool using satellite and oceanographic data to monitor fishing activities, identify illegal vessels and alert authorities.

Ensuing discussions focused on the need for: stronger civil society presence in international processes; holistic thinking to address fragmented management of fisheries; delivery of development, livelihood and conservation objectives together; higher representation of marine expertise in intergovernmental climate change and biodiversity bodies; and effective financing mechanisms in the UNCLOS implementing agreement.

Participants highlighted, inter alia: the International Marine Peace Park model; the importance of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 (on oceans, sea and marine resources for sustainable development); the CBD’s work on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs), which can encourage an ecosystem approach to fisheries; the Antarctic ban on mining in high sea areas; and efforts to map and monitor MPAs.


Adam Whelchel, the Nature Conservancy, said the aim of the workshop was to foster interaction between scientists, practitioners and policy makers on ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) and eco disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR). 

Paul Schumacher, GIZ, said integrating and adapting climate science information to local needs is key for any adaptation project, adding that EBA projects need to start planning for the worst case climate scenario.

Presenting a mangrove case study in Thailand, Jaruwan Enright, Mangrove Action Project, said: it should be best practice to work with and empower people; it is necessary to clarify land tenure before starting restoration projects; and it is better to protect than restore mangroves.

Udo Nehren, University of Applied Science, Cologne, argued that coastal dunes have to be considered as “buffers” given that their degradation leads to more risks from natural hazards and loss of ecosystem services.

On integrating community resilience building into EbA and Eco-DRR, Welchel said it is necessary to work with communities to safely accommodate hazards of climate change and engage with regional resilience frameworks.

A group exercise arrived at three recommendations to help advance Eco-DRR/EbA: more monitoring and evaluation to build stronger evidence to influence policy makers; increased education, capacity building and awareness raising; and building stronger case studies.


This event, moderated by Carl Gustaf Lundin, IUCN, announced the launch of a guide on effective planning strategies for managing environmental risk associated with geophysical and other imaging surveys. Co-author Douglas Nowacek, Duke University, outlined the guide, explaining human activity in oceans, such as marine seismic surveys, ships and sonar, can produce extremely loud sounds that can travel up to 4,000km from their source. He emphasized the huge impacts noise pollution has on whales and other marine species that rely on sound for navigation, foraging and communication.

Nowacek emphasized the need to “turn down the volume” on ocean noise, saying this guide provides a practical guide for responsible environmental planning. He outlined recommendations for responsible noise activity, including, inter alia: thorough risk assessment to minimize the impact of surveys; the need for baseline data on what marine mammals are present in the area at various times of the year; and development of regional-specific operational practices, regulatory requirements and data analysis. He noted the minimal impact such measures have on companies’ costs, as seismic surveys cost upwards of US$100,000 a day to run.


Mark Gough, Natural Capital Coalition, explained that natural capital is the renewable and non-renewable stock that provides benefits for people, while value is the relative importance to the person which may differ from monetary value. Peter Bakker, WBCSD, said the Natural Capital Protocol is about creating a language which translates business’ goals for the conservation community, further cautioning that successful collaboration requires overcoming institutional ego.

Holly Dublin, IUCN, highlighted the need for trust, transparency and data sharing, urging organizations to allow business access to their data so that they are informed about existent challenges and can provide solutions. Peter Seligmann, Conservation International, stressed the importance of: a shared passion for what needs to be achieved; overcoming institutional “territorialism” and subordinating identities to work as a team; and creating a risk protocol to be inserted into the Natural Capital Protocol.

Participants then engaged in an exercise to identify the name and ingredients of the “cocktail” needed for getting the Protocol wildly adopted.


Neville Ash, Director, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), opened the session, underscoring progress on protected area coverage. Nina Bhola, UNEP-WCMC, summarized additional key findings, including: recent PA advances in Hawai‘i and Chile; improvements in data quality; and the ability of countries to update information. She noted a lack of information about management effectiveness and said the Report is a call to invest in protected areas.

Kathy MacKinnon, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), hailed the collaboration between UNEP and IUCN, called the Report a snapshot in time, and said the data provides important indicators on meeting the SDGs. Marina Von Weissenberg, Finland, highlighted the science-policy interface and its usefulness to decision makers. Regarding indigenous people, she noted the importance of management effectiveness and marine protected areas. Norbert Bärlocher, Switzerland, said the Report will help his country achieve protected area goals.

The event also celebrated the launch of the Protected Planet National Technical Series: Republic of Korea report. Bo-hwan Park, Republic of Korea National Park Service, said it will serve as a stepping stone to increase protection for important biodiversity areas and encouraged other countries to publish similar reports.

UNCBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias, highlighted significant updates to information in the Protected Planet Report; its usefulness in establishing measures for biodiversity targets; and ecological representativeness. Referring to E.O. Wilson’s call to dedicate half the earth to all other species, he said we must be inclusive in recognizing all conservation efforts, including those from indigenous, local and private sectors.


Negotiating blocs
African Union
European Union
Non-state coalitions