Summary report, 12–19 November 2014

6th International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC)

The sixth International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress on Protected Areas, or World Parks Congress (WPC), convened in Sydney, Australia, from 12-19 November 2014. More than 5,000 participants attended the meeting, representing governments and public agencies, international organizations, the private sector, academic and research institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and community and indigenous organizations. IUCN organizes the Congress once each decade to take stock of the state of protected areas (PAs) worldwide, appraise progress and setbacks, and define the agenda for PAs for the next decade. The theme of the WPC 2014 was “Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions.”

During the eight days of plenary and workshop sessions, side events and field trips, participants addressed ways to: reach conservation goals; respond to climate change; improve health and well-being; support human life; reconcile different development challenges; enhance diversity and quality of governance; respect indigenous and traditional knowledge culture; and inspire a new generation to prioritize conservation. In addition to these, policymakers, practitioners, CEOs, activists and indigenous leaders focused on strategic issues related to PAs, conservation and sustainable development in a series of seven moderated public debates, termed “World Leaders’ Dialogues.” The principal outcome document of the WPC, the Promise of Sydney, captured the main outcomes of the Congress as well as an ongoing online dialogue regarding potential solutions. The objective of the Promise of Sydney is to demonstrate that PAs are one of the best investments people can make for the future of their planet and themselves, and also to accelerate implementation of innovative approaches to ensure that these investments are successful.


This report summarizes the meetings and events that took place during the Congress.

FIRST WORLD CONFERENCE ON NATIONAL PARKS: The first World Conference on National Parks (Seattle, US, 30 June to 7 July 1962) aimed to promote international understanding of national parks and encourage further development of the national park movement worldwide. Issues discussed included the impacts of humans on wildlife, species extinction, the economic benefits of tourism, and tackling challenges related to park management.

SECOND WORLD CONFERENCE ON NATIONAL PARKS:  The second World Conference on National Parks (Yellowstone, US, 18-27 September 1972) addressed , inter alia: the effects of tourism on PAs; park planning and management; and social, scientific and environmental problems within national parks in wet tropical, arid and mountain regions.

THIRD WORLD CONGRESS ON NATIONAL PARKS:  The third World Congress on National Parks (Bali, Indonesia, 11-22 October 1982) focused on the role of PAs in sustaining society, and recognized 10 major areas of concern, including the inadequacy of the existing global network of terrestrial PAs and the need for: more marine, coastal and freshwater PAs; improved ecological and managerial quality of existing PAs; a system of consistent PA categories to balance conservation and development needs; and links with sustainable development .

FOURTH WORLD CONGRESS ON NATIONAL PARKS AND PROTECTED AREAS:  The fourth World Congress on National Parks and Protected Areas, titled “Parks for life” (Caracas, Venezuela, 10-21 February 1992), emphasized the relationship between people and PAs, and the need for,  inter alia, the identification of sites of importance for biodiversity conservation, and a regional approach to land management. The Caracas Action Plan synthesized the strategic actions for PAs over the decade 1992-2002 and provided a global framework for collective action. The Plan aimed to extend the PA network to cover at least 10% of each major biome by 2000.

FIFTH IUCN WORLD PARKS CONGRESS: The fifth IUCN World Congress (Durban, South Africa, 8-17 September 2003) focused on the “Benefits beyond boundaries” of conservation. Participants addressed gaps within PA systems by identifying under-represented ecosystems, defined tools to improve management effectiveness, sought new legal arrangements, and identified partnerships. The Congress produced several outcomes, three of which were: the Durban Accord and Action Plan, consisting of a high-level vision statement for PAs, and an outline of implementation mechanisms; 32 recommendations, approved by workshops during the Congress; and the Message to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Other outcomes included: the UN List and State of the World’s Protected Areas, a global report on the world’s PAs; a Protected Areas Learning Network (PALNet), a web-based knowledge management tool for PA managers and stakeholders; deliverables on Africa’s PAs, including a recommendation on regional PAs and the Durban Consensus on African Protected Areas for the New Millennium; and a handbook on Managing Protected Areas in the 21st Century, collating case studies, models and lessons learned during the Congress to constitute the “User Manual” for the Durban Accord.

CBD COP 2004:  The seventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 7) to the CBD took place from 9-20 February 2004, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Delegates adopted 33 decisions on,  inter alia: biodiversity and tourism; monitoring and indicators; the ecosystem approach; biodiversity and climate change; mountain biodiversity; inland water ecosystems; marine and coastal biodiversity; PAs; access and benefit-sharing; technology transfer and cooperation; Article 8(j) (traditional knowledge); and national reporting.

The agenda gave parties to the Convention an opportunity to live up to one of the CBD’s most significant challenges, namely to respond with concrete measures to the outcomes of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, including the target of significantly reducing biodiversity loss by 2010, and to position the CBD as the most appropriate and efficient policy framework to address biodiversity. The achievements of the meeting regarding ABS and PAs, supported by a framework for evaluating the implementation of the Convention’s Strategic Plan, provided a solid basis for the Convention to address its priorities in the medium and long term.

CBD COP 2010:  The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the CBD was held from 18-29 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. CBD COP 10 considered a series of strategic, substantive, administrative and budgetary issues, and adopted 47 decisions. Delegates also continued negotiations on an international ABS protocol and considered: a new strategic plan, targets and a multi-year programme of work for the Convention; issues related to cooperation with other conventions, organizations and initiatives; and substantive issues, including marine and coastal biodiversity, climate change, forest biodiversity, biofuels, and Article 8(j). Following intense, late-night sessions, a large “package” of decisions was adopted, making COP 10 one of the most successful meetings in the history of the Convention. This package included the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization; the CBD Strategic Plan for the period 2011-2020, including a mission statement, and strategic goals and targets aiming to inspire broad-based action by parties and stakeholders; and a decision on activities and indicators for the implementation of the Strategy for Resource Mobilization adopted at COP 9. The meeting also: adopted a decision amounting to a de facto moratorium on geo-engineering; took position on the issue of synthetic biology, urging governments to apply the precautionary approach to the field release of synthetic life into the environment and acknowledging parties’ right to suspend it; affirmed the role of the CBD in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and forest conservation, sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+); adopted the Tkarihwaié:ri code of ethical conduct; and established clear steps to increase cooperation among the Rio Conventions leading up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20 Summit).

THIRD IMPAC MARINE CONGRESS:  The third International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC), was held in Marseille, France, from 21-25 October 2013, followed by a high-level political meeting in Corsica , France, from 26-27 October. IMPAC convenes representatives from public management and planning agencies, research institutions, NGOs, coastal and island communities, and the private sector from around the world every four years to assist in the conservation and sustainable development of oceans. The main focus of the third IMPAC Congress was to deliberate on strategies to meet CBD Aichi Target 11 under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, which calls for at least 10% of all coastal and marine areas to be managed as conservation or PAs by 2020. Some of the major recommendations included: converging local approaches and global strategies through mobilizing local and national networks, and connecting them into a global network of marine protected areas (MPAs); forging partnerships with the private sector to advance governance and support spatial planning processes; and entering negotiations to reach an agreement on implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), including the provision for the creation of high seas MPAs. These recommendations fed into the ministerial conference, which highlighted the need for conservation of the high seas through areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJs).

ASIA PARKS CONGRESS:  The first Asia Parks Congress was held in Sendai, Japan, from 1 3-17 November 2013, as the first international conference bringing together PA practitioners in Asia. The participants shared their experiences in managing PAs, including current status, challenges and best practices for PA management in Asia. The main objective of the meeting was to facilitate the establishment of a regional partnership for achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and implementation of the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas. The outcomes of the Congress will be delivered to the sixth WPC in Sydney.

FOURTH MESOAMERICAN PARKS CONGRESS:  The fourth Mesoamerican Congress on Protected Areas was held in San José , Costa Rica, from 18-21 March 2014. This meeting is convened every three or four years to discuss, disseminate and exchange knowledge on planning, management, operation and development of biodiversity conservation in PAs, ecosystem services and the promotion of human welfare. Participants included academics and stakeholders from the Mesoamerican region who, during eight symposiums, shared experiences and identified measures to improve Mesoamerican PAs, including through: governance; knowledge management; management and planning; using PAs as a tool for social and economic development; implementing climate change solutions through PAs; cooperation and financing for PA management; and policies as instruments of PA consolidation.

NAMIBIAN HIGH-LEVEL DIALOGUE: This high-level event on improving PA governance for livelihood security and biodiversity in southern Africa was held in Windhoek, Namibia, from 21-22 May 2014. Over the two days of stocktaking on PA governance within the Southern African Development Community, delegates: assessed ways for PAs to deliver benefits for local communities and biodiversity; discussed priorities for enhancing the resilience of PAs to future pressures and challenges; considered challenges facing the region’s PAs, including human-wildlife conflict, competition for water, wildlife-livestock disease transmission, and contested rights to land and wildlife; and identified strategies to mitigate the impacts of these conflicts on PAs, communities and biodiversity, while recognizing that pressures, such as climate change and the conversion of land into uses that are biodiversity-incompatible, are likely to further exacerbate these conflicts in the future.

SOUTH AMERICAN PARKS CONGRESS:  This meeting was held in Bogotá, Colombia, from 16-18 July 2014. Convening under the theme, “Protected areas: territories for peace and life,” the Congress built on commitments from the first meeting, which took place in 2009, including consolidation of the national PA system within the framework of the CBD’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas. The main objectives of the Congress included: positioning PAs, subsystems and complementary conservation strategies as territories for life and peace, in light of the new economic and social development challenges of Colombia; assessing social and environmental dynamics in urban and rural landscapes, and developing complementary strategies to address these challenges for PA management; and creating opportunities for cultural exchange, knowledge sharing and social valuation of PAs in Colombia.



The IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) 2014 opened on Wednesday evening, 12 November 2014, in Sydney, Australia, to the sounds of the didgeridoo, and with an indigenous “welcome to country” ceremony. Participants viewed an indigenous dance performance and a video of Australia’s natural wonders.

Allen Madden, Aboriginal elder, welcomed all participants on behalf of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation, bounded by the Hawkesbury, Nepean and Georges rivers, stating that this “was, is, and always will be Aboriginal land.”

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng highlighted that since the previous WPC in Durban, South Africa, protected area (PA) coverage has doubled, with marine protected areas (MPAs) experiencing the most dramatic growth. He noted however that the ultimate goal involves “more than numbers,” and encouraged development of a society that truly values and conserves nature, saying that PAs represent “age-old survival strategies.”

On the need for investments in remote PAs, Zhang said that PAs provide benefits beyond their boundaries in the form of food, water and medicine, and that “nature recharges our minds and rekindles our sense of wonder.” He noted the Durban Congress’ recognition of the diverse ways in which PAs are governed around the world, and the role of indigenous people as custodians. Zhang suggested that PAs could be part of the solution to address climate change, through storing carbon, and promoting resilience in the face of floods and droughts. Stressing that “learning never ends,” he urged everyone to work together “for parks, people, and our planet.”

Greg Hunt, Australian Minister for the Environment, announced that indigenous PAs have enabled his country to achieve IUCN’s goals for PAs. He highlighted several recent government initiatives, including a ban on dumping of dredge spoil in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Robert Stokes, New South Wales Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, reported that his state is home to the Royal National Park, Australia ’s second largest national park, and announced the newly-created Everlasting Swamp National Park .

Delivering a message on behalf of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), underscored the role of PAs in safeguarding the global environment from some of the greatest environmental threats, and noted that PAs: are effective tools for conserving species and natural habitats; store 15% of the global terrestrial carbon stock; and support the livelihoods of more than one billion people. She noted progress since the last WPC, including toward Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (on expanding terrestrial and marine PAs) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). She described WPC 2014 as an opportunity to build on the achievements made over the last ten years and set the agenda for PAs for the next decade, while taking into account the role of PAs in mitigating the impacts of climate change and conserving biodiversity. She called upon the Congress to “work toward a global commitment to safeguard one of the planet’s most precious resources, protected areas.”

Noting that eleven years had passed since the first WPC to be held on African soil, Barbara Thomson, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, outlined her country’s progress on PAs and related work since that time, including: efforts to ensure local communities’ participation in, and benefiting from, the conservation of PAs; passing of conservation laws relating to the governance of land areas, and access and benefit sharing; and expansion of the PA network. She described WPC 2014 as an opportunity for learning from each other, and working in partnership to sustain, protect and conserve nature for future generations.

Luvuyo Mandela, great-grandson of Nelson Mandela, and Champion of WPC 2014, thanked participants for their passionate dedication and efforts, and called upon the IUCN community to “continue to honour an old man who left you with the charge to continue to include young people in your efforts.”

In a film, participants were reminded of Nelson Mandela’s speech at WPC 2003, in which he stressed the significance of educating people on the importance of nature for our future, noting that “the future is, after all, in the hands of the youth.”

Four junior rangers from South Africa and Australia came together in a symbolic passing of the WPC torch between the nations. They issued a call to action to global youth, stressing they constitute “the hope and solutions for the future” of PAs. Following this, the co-hosts officially recognized the patrons and champions of WPC 2014.

Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, and Co-Patron of WPC 2014, underscored the importance of implementing commitments made at the WPCs and under the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the CBD. He provided examples from his country’s recent achievements in expanding its terrestrial PA network coverage to 21% of the national territory, and integrating biodiversity into national land-use planning and management of Gabon’s marine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). President Ondimba announced Gabon’s decision to create a network of MPAs to cover 23% of its territorial waters. He urged participants to make a pledge in Sydney to take action on climate change, and support the men and women working in national park agencies who sometimes risk their lives to combat wildlife crime.

WPC Co-Chair and World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Chair Ernesto  Enkerlin Hoeflich, together with Jessica Watson, the youngest person ever to sail solo and unassisted around the world, officially opened the Congress. In conclusion, delegates watched acrobatic dance performances with a storyline on inspiring the next generation to care for the environment and PAs around the world, and then attended a welcome reception.


MORNING SESSION PART I: On Thursday morning, Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director-General, IUCN, and Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich, WPC Co-Chair, welcomed participants and introduced the speakers.

Patrick Dodson, Australian Aboriginal leader, and former Chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, emphasized the interconnectedness of humans with each other and nature. He observed that what we demand in “the quality of our livelihoods” on any part of this planet has a direct correlation to our survival as a species. Highlighting the work of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance, he said the challenge is “to be courageously truthful about our predicament” and face the need to modify our ways.

Julie Bishop, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, recalled the rehabilitation of the Sydney Olympic Park from its former functions as an armament factory, abattoir and eight rubbish dumps. She described her government’s efforts in managing threats to the Great Barrier Reef, concluding that, “while it’s a big job to be caretaker for a nation the size of our landmass–the sixth-largest country in the world–we are more than up for the challenge.”

In an “underwater interview” with a diver at the Great Barrier Reef, Marton-Lefèvre posed questions about the multiple uses that impact the Reef, and heard about an initiative to increase understanding of one of the world’s most threatened ecosystems by engaging the public through the Eye on the Reef Mobile Application.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, presented on developments since the previous WPC in Durban, saying the environment agenda has progressed from that of “being in the last line of defense, to being in the front line.” On the challenges of the decade, he highlighted the financial crisis that has sapped countries’ financial resources, and commended the African countries that have substantially increased their PA coverage in spite of being among some of the world’s poorest nations.

Participants gave a standing ovation to the crews of four Pacific voyaging canoes who journeyed 6,000 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean to attend WPC 2014. Through a traditional “haka” performed by the crew and a video documenting the voyage, the crew delivered the “Mua” Message, highlighting the global value and significance of Pacific islands, and calling for global partnerships to advance the conservation and climate change agendas.

Plenary then heard messages from leaders of Pacific Island States.

Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, stressed that climate change, pollution, and overharvesting of natural resources are undermining the legacy of Pacific people and weakening the resilience of a region crucial to global climate stability. He announced the upcoming establishment of the Palau National Marine Sanctuary encompassing the country’s entire EEZ, and the end to all commercial export of fish from Palau’s waters.

Reminding participants that low-lying island states are at the frontline of climate change, Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, commended the announcement made the previous day by the US and China on greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets. He explained that Kiribati’s Phonenix Islands Protected Area, comprising 11% of the country’s EEZ, will enforce a commercial fishing ban beginning in January 2015.

Henry Puna, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, described conservation efforts in his country’s EEZ, including: passing of legislation; a participatory governance model; the establishment of a whale sanctuary promoting safe passage to humpback whales; and training and research activities with Pacific countries and organizations.

Sally Jewell, Secretary, US Department of the Interior, emphasized that maintaining connectivity of species and ecosystems necessitates transboundary cooperation. Citing the US and China climate agreement, she noted that achieving sustainable development and reducing emissions require long-term commitments. She underlined that PAs preserve natural heritage for future generations, and urged transfer of knowledge and wisdom to the next generation, saying that: “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors but borrow it from our children.”

In a video message on parks, people and climate, a representative of the Zuleta Community of Ecuador reported on communal efforts, or “mingas,” to conserve natural landscapes.

MORNING SESSION PART II: Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General, emphasized that PAs play an important role in strengthening the stability of communities, and contribute to peace and socio-economic development. She underscored the need for PA management to achieve these goals, citing the case of the Virunga National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo, where destruction of ecosystems and the massacre of gorillas have led to increased insecurity and vulnerability of communities.

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF), presented examples of the Facility’s work in supporting countries to build capacity for management of PAs through payments for ecosystem services (PES), fees and other instruments, based on the concept of “biodiversity pays,” whereby the proceeds are invested in improving biodiversity conditions. She stressed that parks can help address climate change, and strengthen the resilience and adaptation capacity of thousands of communities around the world. Noting that PAs do not exist in isolation but rather are often located in mixed-use landscapes and seascapes, Ishii called for managing PAs “from the outside in” to ensure their survival, including through partnerships that share management costs with the private sector.

Yolanda Kakabadse Navarro, President, WWF, noted a trend in PAs being downgraded or de-gazetted, stressing that, “we can’t afford to have ‘paper’ parks.” She urged governments to prioritize PAs in relation to their climate adaptation goals, and urged participants to call on the G20 Summit currently taking place to “responsibly address the risks of climate change.” She welcomed the previous day’s news of the US-China agreement to cut GHG emissions, and called for investment in parks and PAs to inspire youth to connect with nature, and to create new parks where they are most needed, calling this “the ultimate gift to the generation to come.”

Jochen Zeitz, Zeitz Foundation, and the B Team initiative, discussed shifting narratives to recognize natural capital and the economic costs of biodiversity loss. He underscored the need to harness the business sector in the PA movement, both for finding solutions and driving innovation. Highlighting the role of private PAs, he discussed the protection of 12 million acres of land and seascapes through the global Long-Run Initiative.

Chloe Dragon Smith, youth and Canadian First Nations representative, took participants on a virtual journey through her homeland, highlighting close connections between her people and the land. She underscored that fostering change requires engaging children at an early age, and shifting education systems to deliver authentic experiences and holistic learning.

AFTERNOON SESSION PART I: Kathy MacKinnon, WPC Co-Chair, and WCPA Deputy Chair, and Taholo Kami, Regional Director, IUCN Oceania, opened the afternoon plenary session, followed by a recital by slam poet Caroline Harvey of a conservation-inspired poem titled “Praise the Butchered.”

IUCN WCPA Chair Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich presented a message from the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, stressing the need to develop governance systems that facilitate the direct participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in conservation. He affirmed Costa Rica’s commitment to strengthening the sustainable use of its natural resources and developing a robust network of PAs.

A panel discussion titled “Making Space for Nature: Regional Views,” was moderated by Sally Ranney, IUCN Patron of Nature.

Henri Djombo, Minister for Forestry, Environment and Sustainable Development, Republic of Congo, noted the lack of climate financing for PAs, reporting that REDD+ excludes protected forest areas. He further noted that the prohibition of economic activities in PAs renders them even more vulnerable to encroachment and further deterioration. Djombo proposed zoning sections of PAs for sustainable utilization.

Fengxue Chen, Deputy Director, State Forestry Administration of China, explained specific measures taken by his country to promote nature conservation, including: laws and regulations; administrative agencies and law enforcement units at all governmental levels; several major national ecological conservation programs, with a total investment of up to US$100 billion; the extension of PAs; participation in multilateral conventions; and promotion of the participation of civil society organizations in conservation. He highlighted China’s announcement to peak national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy to 20% by 2030, adding that China will also aim to increase the proportion of PAs to 20% of the country’s total land area.

Robert Stokes, New South Wales (NSW) Minister for the Environment and Minister for Heritage, Australia, reported that PA coverage in NSW has doubled in the last 20 years. He highlighted several steps undertaken to address challenges of PA connectivity, including: co-management of PAs with local communities; partnerships with the private sector, and academic and research institutions in the reintroduction of locally extinct species; and involvement of landowners in fostering wildlife protection and habitat range expansion in areas adjacent to PAs.

Adele Catzim-Sanchez, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Belize, highlighted Mesoamerican collaboration to advance conservation area protection in the region. She reported on the development of regional PA policies and a regional strategic plan on the environment to be approved in December 2014.  She highlighted key activities in PA management, such as enhancing connectivity through the establishment of networks, and utilization of technology to complement site controls and traditional knowledge.

Heremoana Maamaatuaiahutapu, Minister of Environment, French Polynesia, shared his country’s intention to expand MPA coverage to 30%. He emphasized his country’s greatest challenge is balancing economic development needs with cultural and natural preservation goals.

Soichiro Seki, Vice-Minister for Global Environment, Ministry of the Environment, Japan, described the organization of the Asia Parks Congress in November 2013 in Sendai, Japan, and highlighted the launch of the Asia Protected Areas Partnership at the WPC in Sydney. He noted the significant role that PAs have played in rehabilitation of areas affected by the 2011 eastern Japan earthquake, and anticipated contributing from this experience to the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, in 2015.

Paula Caballero, Senior Director, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, World Bank, urged participants to rebel against the slow-onset degradation of the planet. Arguing that PAs should be seen as a means of addressing the challenges of poverty, food security, climate-smart agriculture and restoration of degraded landscapes and seascapes, she gave examples of the Bank’s projects in Tanzania, the Amazon and Indonesia that successfully advanced sustainable development through PAs. She called on everyone to “live up to the Promise of Sydney,” emphasizing that with regard to people and the planet, “there is no Plan B.”

AFTERNOON SESSION PART II: Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General Designate, moderated a panel that reflected on achievements since the WPC in Durban, and the challenges and opportunities of the next 10 years.

Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and WPC Patron, noted that oceans were not sufficiently addressed at Durban, and the world is far from reaching the target of protecting 10% of marine areas. Stressing that “the next 10 years will be the most important of the next 10,000 years,” she underscored the need to restore and protect natural systems, not only within EEZs, but also on the high seas.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, CBD, explained that, though not on track, the environmental agenda is making progress. He highlighted interlinkages between the biodiversity, development, and poverty alleviation agendas, and said achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the sustainable development agenda are interdependent processes. As a major challenge, he stressed the need to scale up actions, moving from a “silo approach” to promoting partnerships with sectors, and urged new governance systems that include the participation of indigenous and local communities.

Responding to the moderator’s question on whether the Durban WPC was a turning point for the relationship between PAs and indigenous peoples and local communities, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, said commitments relating to respecting the rights and roles of indigenous peoples have been achieved to a certain extent. She noted that exploitation of mineral resources found in indigenous territories is an important challenge and a source of conflict, stressing the importance of allowing communities to monitor changes in their landscapes to ensure realistic recommendations regarding their protection.

Márcio Favilla Lucca de Paula, Executive Director, Operational Programmes and Institutional Relations, World Tourism Organization, noted the current and potential impacts of tourism on conservation areas, with over one billion people having traveled internationally since 2012. He highlighted both detrimental and positive impacts, and said if managed well, tourism can be a valuable instrument for sustainable development through economic investment in local communities.

Jane Goodall, the Jane Goodall Institute, underscored the importance of PAs as tools of endangered species conservation, and reported on village forest reserves in Tanzania where local communities are equipped with mobile devices to report on conservation trends.

Sally Barnes, Director, Parks Australia, and Trevor Sandwith, Director, IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, jointly presented the process of delivering the Promise of Sydney. They highlighted elements of the Promise and invited participants to make contributions by: commenting on the draft vision online; submitting innovative solutions through a web platform; and registering commitments by completing the electronic form “our commitment to the Promise of Sydney.”

Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group, highlighted some of his experiences in exploring nature, saying the WPC is not just about PAs but is about caring for nature. He underscored the important role of the private sector, referring to the B Team Initiative’s use of entrepreneurial skills to help solve critical environmental issues.

Paul Rose, Vice President, Royal Geographical Society, chaired a panel discussion, titled “The adventure begins!”

Jessica Watson, Australian sailor, said that years of weekend camping and sailing with her family had provided the basis for her solo voyage around the globe. She noted that cooperation activities, such as writing letters and talking to sponsors, were an important part of the adventure.

David Stratton, advocate for PA access for people with disabilities, told his story of regaining access to wilderness after succumbing to multiple sclerosis. Stratton presented a video about his use of the TrailRider, a vehicle developed in Canada, which he described as “a one-wheel cross between a bike and a sedan chair,” and its subsequent adoption by Parks Victoria in Australia.

Sibusiso Vilane, Chief Scout, South Africa, and first black African to reach the summit of Mount Everest, described his motivation as “an ordinary game ranger” in Swaziland to undertake two Everest climbs as well as treks to the North and South Poles. He stressed that “young people are the future of what conservation is about,” and that PAs provide vast opportunities.

Wrapping up the session, Canadian rap artist Baba Brinkman performed songs from his new album, “The Rap Guide to Wilderness.”


On Friday morning, three parallel opening plenary sessions convened on the themes parks, people and planet.

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 financing 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”; be part of a wider conservation plan; and 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 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 local communities through traditional means.

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 is the 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.

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 in the 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 , and stressed 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,” and 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 Aliyev 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 curriculums; and partnering with artists to engage the public in a Caucasian leopard conservation campaign.

Sean Willmore, International Rangers 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 the 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, and discussed the successes of PAs established by and co-managed with indigenous peoples, 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 of 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, US National Parks Service, 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 a “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, also 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 indigenous crop varieties; participatory approaches, tenure and access rights; mountains and watersheds; and PES, 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 states 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 rehabilitation of 500 million hectares of abandoned farmland.


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 that 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; the 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 language people can relate to.

STREAM THREE: Improving Health and Wellbeing:  Focusing on the linkages between nature, and human health and wellbeing, 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 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 of 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 multilateral environmental agreements (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 conservation areas with zoning for 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 focusing 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.


On Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, stream sessions took place on the eight topics listed above. IISD Reporting Services covered a selection of stream sessions, which are summarized below.


A Global Standard to Identify Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs): Results of a Global Consultation: Participants 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 consultation process 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; how Important Bird Areas criteria and others can inform KBAs; 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: wondered whether “mobile KBAs” could 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 environments and for data-deficient species with narrow ranges of distribution, and noted the complementarity of KBAs with the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.

The IUCN World Heritage Outlook: Setting a Decade Challenge for the World Heritage Convention:  Cyril Kormos, The WILD Foundation, facilitated the session, saying the World Heritage Outlook provides the first global assessment of natural World Heritage Sites. Elena Osipova, IUCN World Heritage Programme, explained the Conservation Outlook Assessments are used to categorize heritage sites based on values, threats and protection status of sites.

Marc Hockings, University of Queensland, discussed the IUCN Green List of Well-Managed Protected Areas developed prior to the Outlook to share successes of PAs in reaching good management standards. He also mentioned the “Enhancing Our Heritage” project, developed by IUCN and UNESCO to monitor the success of World Heritage Sites. Susan Lieberman, World Conservation Society (WCS), said her organization has contributed to the Outlook by providing scientific and technical information on 32 sites.

Julia Miranda, Londoño, National Natural Parks of Colombia, said the Outlook will enable sharing of success stories, and that the baseline data on sites forms a basis for scientific research and PA management. Stephen Morris, US National Parks Service, praised the development of the Outlook, underscoring its value in bringing additional focus to conservation and sustainability issues for management of World Heritage Sites. Feng Jing, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, said the tool will enable engagement with more partners, including civil society and indigenous peoples, on the World Heritage agenda, and will further enhance the work of the World Heritage Committee.

Barbara Engels, German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, moderated the discussion session. Participants highlighted the need to ensure feedback and comments from other stakeholders. They agreed that the impacts of climate change or war should not be used as indicators of site performance as they are beyond site managers’ control, and that the exclusion of cultural information compromises the valuation of mixed sites.


Blue and Green Carbon: A New Opportunity for Protected Areas?: Tobias Wittman, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), facilitated this session, which considered the role of PAs in securing both green and blue carbon stores. Mauricio Sanchez Lopez, National Commission of Protected Areas, Mexico, reported that his country has developed a strategy for PAs to counteract the impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems. He noted the four PAs of the Central Sierra Madre Oriental have been selected as priority protected zones, and reported the lack of long-term data and high cost of measuring, reporting and verification (MRV) carbon systems were a challenge to measuring carbon in PAs.

Sylvie Goyet, Fondation Internationale du Banc d’Arguin, Switzerland, presented on blue carbon as a source of sustainable financing of Cacheu Mangrove and Cantanhez Forest National Parks. She reported on a conservation trust fund to support sustainable conservation financing in these PAs, and expressed concern over the downward trend of the carbon markets.

Christopher Dean, Peak District National Park, presented on blanket bogs and their contribution to carbon sequestration, reporting on past threats from industrial pollution and summer wildfires that have caused extreme acidity and high heavy metal content and have depleted seed banks in these landscapes. He highlighted restoration efforts, including damming of gulleys and reintroduction of sphagnum moss.

Paola Fajardo, McGill University, Canada, reported that the San Blas estuarine system in Mexico is populated by mangrove-dependent communities that sustainably harvest mangroves, thus posing no threat to carbon stocks. She noted however that agricultural activities and large dams upstream were responsible for high nitrogen inputs and reduced sediment, which are detrimental to mangroves. She suggested developing PES schemes, and implementing national policies and regional action plans to enhance watershed management.

Cecilia Gore-Birch Gault, Kimberley Land Council, presented on the North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project, which uses traditional fire-burning methods to manage ecosystems. She noted this is carried out from April to June, before the dry season, in order to reduce GHG and decrease the risk of wildfires, and reported that Aboriginal land owners are generating carbon credits through fire management.

Restoring Natural Systems to Provide Resilience to Climate Change:  The session was moderated by Fernando Camacho, National Commission for Protected Areas (CONAP), Mexico. Mike Wong, Parks Canada, underscored that well-managed ecological restoration in PAs is critical for helping ecosystems and people adapt to climate change, and for building local capacities to respond to associated challenges.

Chu Van Cuong, University of Queensland, presented on wetland restoration in the Kien Giang Biosphere Reserve, Vietnam. He described an area threatened by wetland fragmentation and conversion to rice and aquaculture, where previous restoration efforts had limited success.

Joyce Loza, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, described transboundary cooperation between South Africa and Lesotho for providing water services and strengthening institutions through the Maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Project. She underscored participatory planning in effective rehabilitation of wetlands and rangelands, and how this improved community support for land-use zoning and rotational grazing.

Rajendra Khanal, IUCN, discussed the Panchase Protected Forest in Nepal, noting that effective conservation increased by promoting public, private and community partnerships, and by developing a payment scheme based on the survival rate of seedlings rather than the gross number planted.

Erustus Kanga, Kenya Wildlife Service, underscored that functioning, well-connected PA networks are an essential part of the global response to climate change. He discussed how habitat restoration in and near PAs enhances water storage capacity, reduces human-wildlife conflict, and delivers ecosystem services.

Edna María Carolina Jarro, National Natural Parks of Colombia, explained how restoration is monitored through a network of permanent plots across the PA system, and how Colombia is broadening the scope of the system to include restoration of coral reefs.

Carlos Sifuentes Lugo, CONAP, highlighted the value of community workshops in: raising awareness among landowners; empowering communities to identify their concerns; and targeting priority areas for restoration and invasive species control.


Global Environmental and Health Policy:  A Nexus for Change:  Moderator Jerril Rechter, VicHealth, Australia, outlined the focus of the session as the linkages between human and environmental health .

Describing the environment-health nexus as one of the great opportunities of the 21st century, Keith Martin, Consortium of Universities for Global Health, suggested that environmental security incorporates the solutions to human security, and stressed the need to demonstrate the positive economic impact of environmental policies on health.

Lamenting that both governments and international policy goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), operate within sectoral silos, CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias expressed hope that the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and post-2015 development agenda will push for an integrated approach, in particular in relation to health.

Bridget Finton, Scottish Natural Heritage, and Matti Tapaninen, Natural Heritage Services, Finland, presented case studies on policies and partnerships, and turning policy into practice. Finton provided examples from Scotland on linking health and the environment in government strategies and sectoral policies at different levels. Tapaninen presented on Finland’s Healthy Parks, Healthy People programme.

Suneetha Subramanian, United Nations University, spoke on the need to sustain traditional medical knowledge, and identified linkages between traditional medicine and biodiversity, including in the areas of new pharmaceuticals, food and health supplements, and mental wellbeing.

During the discussion, participants addressed questions on, inter alia: monitoring of health impacts of national parks and green spaces; enabling interaction across sectors and levels of policy-making for policy integration; and “bringing nature to people” by creating green spaces in cities.

Why Urban Parks Matter in Creating Healthy and Liveable Cities (Part 1):  Moderator Guillermo Penalosa, 8-80 Cities, reported that by 2045, 80% of people will be living in cities, and said decisions taken today regarding city planning will impact billions of people for decades to come. He urged widespread involvement in “making the case” for parks in urban areas.

Tobias Volbert, Playscape Creations, presented on the 7 Senses Foundation that aims to create healthier neighbourhoods and communities and to include people with disabilities. He called for: improved design and planning of public spaces; change in regulations and policies to extend past mobility accessibility; and a greater consideration of neurodiversity and disability in the design of open spaces.

Amber Bill, Wellington City Council, explained the benefits of “biophilia,” or the human need for connections with nature and other forms of life. She reported on the recovery of biodiversity, enhanced quality of life, and economic growth through raised property value due to development of green belts in cities.

Lee Yi Ling, Singapore Health Promotion Board, described the role of parks in improving health through community “touch points” where people connect with each other, and in influencing healthy lifestyle habits. She cited examples of park-related health initiatives from her city, including: “Sundays at the Park” where groups exercise and families participate in games; “Community in Bloom,” where residents create small gardens to grow vegetables and flowers; and “Exercise is Medicine,” consisting of fitness corners within city parks.

Vance Martin, The WILD Foundation, presented on his organization’s vision of “wilding” cities, or making them ecologically permeable and resilient. He said the organization’s mission is to create a collaborative of champions to facilitate exchange of strategies and partnerships among 12 cities in order to increase their natural spaces.

Fran Horsley, Parks Victoria, shared information on Melbourne’s nature-based parks, reporting that people living near an open space consistently have healthier profiles. She cited improved cognitive development of children and benefits to students with learning disabilities.

Why Urban Parks Matter in Creating Healthy and Liveable Cities (Part 2):  Emily Munroe, 8-80 Cities, facilitated the session . Bing Wen Low, National Parks Board of Singapore, discussed habitat enhancement projects for Bishan Park and sidewalks in the city aimed at enhancing biodiversity-rich sceneries. He reported increased species richness, improved aesthetics, and community engagement in nature conservation and citizen science.

Noel Corkery, Corkery Consulting, and Suellen Fitzgerald, Western Sydney Parklands Trust, underscored the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to integrate sustainable development and biodiversity conservation in urban parks, and to create platforms for social cohesion of multicultural communities.

Myron Floyd, North Carolina State University, presented the “Get Up, Get Out and Go” campaign in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which targets disadvantaged communities, and aims to create healthy recreational and physical activities through park visits. He underscored the need for innovative ideas and engagement opportunities in order for parks to remain relevant to communities’ needs.

Richard Fuller, University of Queensland, noted that children in Brisbane are spending more time indoors than maximum-security prisoners. He presented results from a joint study between ecologists and health scientists, and underscored that understanding barriers to interaction with nature is more important than building new parks in Brisbane, saying that for low-income people nature phobia is a major barrier.

Robert Moseley, The Nature Conservancy, presented the successes of Chicago Wilderness in connecting people with nature, outlining programmes, which reconnect children to nature. He highlighted the development of the “Chicago Wilderness Climate Action Plan for Nature” to advise the city on integrating nature conservation and people.

Vanessa Trowell, Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, said that urban parks are now evolving from single to multi-function uses, and that landscape architecture is providing innovative opportunities for multiple use public spaces, including play areas, dog walk areas and other recreational services.


Nature-based Solutions for Disasters: Lessons from Practices on the Ground:  In a session moderated by Robert Mather, IUCN, participants shared experiences on how synergies between strong governance, community participation, watershed conservation and PAs provide solutions for disaster risk reduction and building resilience.

Mark Smith, IUCN, discussed IUCN’s Water and Nature Initiative in Guatemala, which reduces flood hazards through governance reforms, watershed restoration, farming systems diversification and enterprise development, and working with communities on disaster preparedness and early warning detection. He underscored that strong governance, coordination across levels of government and strong leadership are essential.

Xiangying Shi, Shanshui Conservation Center, China, presented the Forest for Water Programme. She described how it facilitated access to water for 10 villages by raising awareness on forest ecosystem services and working with local communities to: rehabilitate riparian areas; invest in agroforestry; and use traditional customs and rules to govern smart water use. She underscored building cooperation between communities and PAs, for instance through co-management.

Anu Adhikari, IUCN, discussed risks related to poor road construction in Nepal, including soil erosion and wash-outs. She described a project that works with local people to re-vegetate and stabilize slopes, and conduct community risk mapping. She noted the opportunity to draw on local and traditional scientific knowledge.

Edwin Ogar, Ekuri Community Forest, Nigeria, shared lessons learned on governance from the country’s largest community-controlled rainforest. He explained how, in order to address food insecurity, forest degradation, biodiversity loss and drought, the community developed a land-use plan, and zoned 50% of the land for total protection and the rest for resource use. Ogar underscored how traditional benefit-sharing regimes are used to support good governance and promote community buy-in. He described how some community members voluntarily opted for jail sentences to protect the forest from illegal timber harvest.

Ecosystem Restoration and PAs: Delivering Socio-economic and Environmental Benefits:  Kyran Thelen, IUCN, introduced the session .

Referring to the “Bonn Challenge” to restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands worldwide, Gretchen Walters, IUCN, highlighted the possibilities for rapid returns on landscape and ecosystem restoration efforts. She said that in densely populated countries, restoration plays an important role in supporting biodiversity corridors, with riverine forests, especially providing connectivity.

On recovery from natural disasters, Nicholas Hill, Zoological Society of London, presented research showing that mangrove replanting efforts to increase resilience have often been ineffective, due to inappropriate siting and plant selection, and the continuing increase in fishponds for aquaculture. He recommended: prioritizing protection of recovering and natural mangrove stands; restoring former mangrove habitats previously converted to fishponds; and applying the best available scientific standards for all replanting.

Mark Webb, Kings Park and Botanic Gardens, Western Australia, presented a restoration project in the arid lands of the Al Hisseya Natural Area north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He described “seed orchards” as an approach to landscape restoration.

Agus Utomo, Burung Indonesia (BirdLife), presented village resource management agreements by local communities. He noted that on-the-ground management of sites in Indonesia is often lacking, and that working with community groups, such as cooperatives and farmer’s unions, is key to the success of conservation efforts.

Roel Posthoorn, Natuurmonumenten, the Netherlands, presented a land reclamation project to create an island reserve, Marker Wadden, in the Markermeer, one of Europe’s largest freshwater lakes. He described underwater landscaping to direct silt for use in the reclamation process, noting that the eventual return will be restoration of the fishery and birdlife as well as leisure opportunities.

Participants agreed there is a need to change the focus of stories about human ability to change the environment, and called for “on-the-ground, inspiring stories about large-scale ecological restoration.”

Freshwater Ecosystems in Protected Areas: Effective Protection through Conservation Law:  Ben Boer, World Commission on Environmental Law , noted that even though the legal protection of wetlands is often controversial, conventions such as the World Heritage Convention, CBD, Convention on Migratory Species, Ramsar and UN Watercourses Convention have enabled regulation of national laws for freshwater ecosystems. He provided the example of the 2004 Federal Court case, Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage versus Greentree, regarding the Windella Ramsar Site, in which an AUS$450,000 fine for clearing protected wetlands for agriculture was imposed on a farmer and his company.

Lydia Slobodian, IUCN Environmental Law Centre, discussed the UN Watercourses Convention and obligations of parties in relation to PAs. She noted that even though the definition of a watercourse according the convention strictly refers to the water itself, catchment issues are addressed under the “protection of ecosystems,” requiring states to individually and jointly protect and preserve ecosystems of international watercourses.

Volker Mauerhofer, University of Austria, presented on “Convention Check,” an activity undertaken in Austria to encourage better implementation of conservation-related MEAs.  He reported that the evaluation of the implementation showed that the Convention Check is a reliable method of assessment and noted that the Austrian PA management had implemented 20% of the tool’s recommendations.

In ensuing discussions, participants noted the need for more: awareness creation on the obligations and provisions of the UN Watercourses Convention; and interaction between freshwater ecologists and courts to provide science-based evidence for cases against the environment.


Protected Areas and Sustainable Development Goals (Part 1): Jamison Ervin, UNDP, moderated the session. She lamented that society does not care about nature the way it should, and that the development trajectory is riddled with market and policy failures.

Norbu Wangchuk, Bhutan, elaborated on the contributions of PAs to increase Gross National Happiness based on the four pillars of sustainable development, including the cultural dimension. He highlighted the need for preservation of culture, environmental conservation, and good governance, through resisting unbridled development.

Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu, Malaysia, shared his country’s vision of becoming a fully developed nation by 2020 and the role of PAs in reaching this. He highlighted diversifying biodiversity uses in other areas, including bio-prospecting, recreation and ecotourism. To achieve this goal, he proposed: enhanced management of PAs through developing innovative economic instruments; and improving attitudes toward conservation.

Krishna Prassad Acharya, Nepal, shared experiences from his country’s PAs and described some of the challenges, including resource dependency, human-wildlife conflicts, habitat loss and fragmentation, and lack of local ownership.

Tarun Kathula, India, presented on a programme to mainstream coastal and marine biodiversity conservation into the agricultural sector, saying his region contains a complex ecosystem that is further compromised by agricultural activities, rapid urbanization, oil exploration, aquaculture and tourism.

Aggrey Rwetsiba, Uganda, described several instances where PAs benefit local communities, including through: preserving cultural heritage; providing a resource base for food; being spaces for recreation, education and research; and providing local business opportunities and employment through hotels, restaurants, and infrastructure development.

On the challenges resulting from typhoons in the Upper Marikina River Basin, Angelito Fontanillo, the Philippines, highlighted infrastructure collapse, invasive alien species, soil erosion and biodiversity loss. He described the government’s strategy to avoid similar situations through developing new policies and management plans, consulting and partnering with various stakeholders, and contracting communities to rehabilitate the river basin.

Manuel Benedicto Lucas, Guatemala, described two management models from his country, and emphasized the importance of building bridges with local communities originally regarded as “encroachers.” He said collaboration with communities provides many opportunities for improving environmental conditions.

Protected Areas and Sustainable Development Goals (Part 2): Jamison Ervin, UNDP, introduced the second part of the session, inviting participants to form small groups to identify and discuss the two or three most important aspects of sustainable development for PAs in their own contexts. Representatives from each group then presented a summary of their discussions to the wider group.

Participants raised issues of food and water security, livelihoods, and the need to build relationships with local communities in and adjacent to parks and PAs. They noted that local people facing resource scarcity issues may resent the establishment of PAs.

One group recommended that parks and PAs retain some areas where local communities can sustainably access resources, noting that “they should be treated as a special category because these are the people who can best help us to manage the PAs.” Another group described the need to “share power with the community” in parks and PA management, citing research from Bangladesh suggesting that, despite zoning in PAs, management plans are often absent or minimal. The group stressed the need for communities to be genuinely incorporated in consultation and participation, and the value of “co-learning and co-working.”

One group contrasted management issues in developed countries relating to getting visitors “into parks” for continued viability, with those in developing countries where the issue is to get people “out of parks” where they hunt or forage. The group concluded that the issue is not getting people “in” or “out,” but creating “the right connections to parks,” emphasizing the need for communities to have ownership of parks, and be supported in their goals and implementation.

Others suggested PES as a means whereby benefits can flow to local communities, and highlighted the need to recognize and apply traditional knowledge, in addition to science, to parks management.

Good for Business: Solutions through Sustainable Sourcing and Supply Chains: This session showcased examples of sustainable supply chain-related initiatives and practices from across the world, and their relation to biodiversity conservation and PAs.

Session moderator Joshua Bishop, WWF-Australia, presented on the organization’s work to protect the Great Barrier Reef by promoting sustainable sugarcane production, including through providing technical advice to farmers and partnering with companies. He lamented that, after five years, nitrogen loads in the area have only decreased by 10%, compared to the estimated required level of 80%.

Petrus Gunarso, Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, presented on his company’s sustainable forest management policies in Indonesia, which include the aim of one hectare of conserved land per planted hectare.

Helen Crowley, Kering Group, suggested that natural capital accounting: helps companies value and locate environmental impact; enables comparability across types of impacts; and provides different stakeholder groups with “a common context” for seeking solutions.

Presenting on an initiative in Luangwa Valley, Zambia, James Deutsch, Community Markets for Conservation, explained how a model combining conservation farming and access to markets has increased average income, improved food security, provided alternative jobs to poachers, and resulted in a “renaissance” of wildlife in the valley.

Brian Jones, Blue Ventures, shared experiences of working with coastal communities in Madagascar to restore fish stocks, including through establishing locally-managed marine areas and creating alternative sources of income.

Adriana Moreira, World Bank, outlined factors that have supported the reduction of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, including integrated resource management, law enforcement and interventions in supply chains. She said simultaneous efficiency improvements in agriculture have led to economic growth in the region.

During a panel discussion and throughout the session, presenters highlighted some useful tools and success factors for sustainable value chains, including: multi-stakeholder partnerships; measurement for demonstrating impact; certification; voluntary market standards; market signals; companies’ internal visions for driving sustainability; and prioritization of local needs.


Governance, Sustainable Use of Wild Resources and Combating Wildlife Crime: Panelists heard examples of community action on these issues from Peru, Ghana, Namibia, India, Uganda and Costa Rica.

Duan Biggs, University of Queensland, Australia, presented on governance principles for sustainable community-based natural resource management. He highlighted the need for: clearly defined de facto and de jure boundaries that are recognized by local people; high levels of social capital, trust and community coherence in decisionmaking and action; locally-driven rule development, sanctioning and enforcement regarding harvesting and conservation; social norms that favor collaboration; the perceived likelihood of fair outcomes; and ability to share experiences and ideas within and among community groups.

Melissa Vivacqua Rodrigues, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil, described conflicting models of development in the Amazon region. She highlighted the rise of new social actors in recent times, such as NGOs and the private sector, noting the challenge of constructing a legal framework that meets the demands of decentralized power.

In the ensuing discussion, participants raised questions about: the risks to communities combating armed poaching; how to gain state recognition of some models of local governance; whether community action continues when NGO support ends; and how to proceed when the community is divided over conservation aims.

On poaching, some suggested maintaining the confidentiality of informants. In relation to government accountability to local communities, it was suggested that community pressure is “the only thing that works.” On the need for NGO support, participants noted that, while some countries have a tradition of local action, others would not undertake a process without external support. Where the community is divided on aims, one participant recommended being patient and letting people resolve the issue themselves, while another said conflict should be explicitly negotiated through a resolution process.

Inspiring Solutions: Better-governed Seascapes as Models for Sustainable Living:  Hugh Govan, Locally-Managed Marine Area Network (LMMA) moderated the session, asking the presenters to reflect on: solutions for developing and connecting effective governance across multiple spatial scales, including encouraging policy makers to take into account local resource governance solutions; what can be learnt from traditional and local governance models; and the most inspiring solutions for multiple sectors in sustainable coastal and marine planning. He provided examples from applying an LMMA approach in Fiji, noting that initial results indicated that this bottom-up methodology to conservation planning for marine area networks puts Fiji on track to meet Aichi Target 11.

Jesse Hastings, National University of Singapore, shared an example from Cambodia of establishing a marine fisheries management area through a participatory approach that brings together communities, fishers, different levels of government and the private sector, thus promoting shared governance. He noted that this represents a shift from standard top-down planning.

Brian Jones, Blue Ventures, described how communities in Madagascar instituted voluntary closures in an octopus fishery, and partnered with the private sector to grow and market sea cucumbers. He noted that this system increased stocks, provided incentives for good management, and emerged as a more popular approach than MPAs, which are often considered “restrictive.”

Sutej Hugu, Tao Foundation, illustrated fisheries management through traditional norms and taboos that govern which species are harvested, where and when. He explained that an “eco-calendar” dictates the end of the harvest for flying fish to coincide with the start of the breeding season.

Purificació Canals, Network of Mediterranean Marine Protected Area Managers (MedPAN), presented on the participatory multi-stakeholder process that led to the Mediterranean Roadmap for MPAs for 2020. She highlighted how a collective process, such as the establishment of a regional trust fund for marine protection in the region, can achieve concrete results.

Participants discussed their experiences, including how Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs) are using customary governance models to achieve Aichi Targets, and lobbying for conservation to be mainstreamed into marine spatial planning initiatives.


Traditional Management Systems in Achieving National and International Policy Goals: Claudio Chiarolla, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), moderated a session exploring how traditional management systems can contribute to goals and targets for climate change and biodiversity, and how national and global policies can impinge on community-level rights.

Alejandro Argumedo, Asociación ANDES, Peru, lamented the marginalization of indigenous peoples’ knowledge in the science-based UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. He provided an overview of the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative (IPCCA), which assesses climate change impacts and traditional resource management adaptation responses in 10 sites around the world. Argumedo explained that the assessment: conducts baseline studies; evaluates trends and scenarios; and identifies local innovations for adaptation planning.

Yiching Song, Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy, discussed lessons learned from the Seed Park in Stone Village, an IPCCA case study. She noted that climate change has played a role in the disappearance of local crop varieties. To address this, Song said that a cooperative had been established to produce seeds from local crop varieties and manage a nation-wide farmer seed exchange network. She highlighted how this initiative has informed the national seed legislation by advocating the rights of farmers to save and sell their seeds.

Natalie Stoianoff, University of Technology, Sydney, provided a review of the shift in Australian policy from an outward-looking stance to an inward focus, saying that this has been influenced by the international transition from MDGs to SDGs that require attention to national indicators of sustainability. Tracing a series of national programmes, she discussed how biocultural knowledge is assessed and valued, and how benefit sharing is addressed.

Iara Vasco Ferreira, Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation, Brazil, explored national biodiversity policy, and how conflicts have arisen where PAs overlap with indigenous-managed PAs. Sonia Guajajara, Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil, described advocacy on territorial rights and efforts to strengthen and implement existing Brazilian law. She stated “without territories, we cannot be indigenous peoples.”

Wend Wendland, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), discussed current developing country-led negotiations on an international legal instrument for protection of traditional knowledge to address the intellectual property aspects of access and benefit-sharing in relation to genetic resources.

Assessing and Certifying Indigenous Knowledge of Tracking in African Conservation and Protected Areas: Moderator Nigel Crawhall, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee, introduced Alfred Chedau, Khwe elder and tracker, and Thaddeus Chadau, both of the Bwabwata people from Namibia. They presented on their experiences in traditional methods of tracking wild animals, emphasizing the importance of transferring traditional knowledge inter-generationally, while lamenting that this knowledge is not regarded by the government as a serious qualification, and that young people are therefore not interested in acquiring these skill sets.

Friedrich Alpers, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, Namibia, presented experiences of working with indigenous trackers to educate the younger generation in traditional knowledge and accredit experienced trackers. He highlighted the effectiveness of the project in restoring dignity to the older generation and addressing social fragmentation and alcoholism.

On Namibia’s acceptance of commercial hunting, Crawhall noted that while some of the proceeds are directed to community infrastructure, such as schools and clinics, there have not been corresponding efforts to create alternative livelihood opportunities related to commercial hunting. He noted that safari companies are calling for assessment and accreditation of qualified trackers, while many traditional knowledge holders are being excluded from parks, and those with formal education who are getting the jobs “can’t tell one tree from another.”

A participant asked whether schooling for indigenous youth is recommended since it erodes indigenous knowledge. Chadau said both formal schooling and indigenous knowledge are needed. Crawhall explained that a Khwe dictionary has been developed, and that traditional knowledge could become part of the school curriculum.


Pushing Boundaries: Young Peoples’ Protected Areas Challenge: Session hosts Crista Valentino, CoalitionWILD, US, and Bruno Monteferri, Conservamos por Naturaleza, Peru, introduced the “Pushing Boundaries Challenge” competition, which invited young people to submit their conservation work within and beyond PAs around the world. He then gave the floor to three winning projects, selected on the basis of their innovativeness, and potential for scaling up, impact and replicability.

Vedharajan Balaji, OMCAR Foundation, India, narrated his personal story as a conservationist activist in coastal areas in India, and introduced his community-based conservation organization, OMCAR, which works on, inter alia: mangrove restoration; environmental education through an interactive centre for children; and geographic information systems (GIS) mapping of seagrass for dugong conservation, including through training of local fishers.

Harmony Patricio, FISHBIO, US, shared her experience with fish conservation in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, stressing the importance of basing conservation activities on the knowledge and priorities of local people. Presenting on her work with local fish conservation zones (FCZs), she explained how fish tagging and monitoring helped provide concrete proof of the impact of FCZs beyond their boundaries, and how information sharing on IUCN Red-Listed species through local-level consultations motivated communities to create new FCZs.

Andrew Reid, Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, South Africa, presented on an open access medicinal street garden project for healing in Cape Town, South Africa. He explained how his work had been motivated by the inherent conflict between conservation managers and “rasta bush doctors,” the latter of whom earn their livelihoods from traditional medicinal plants but also offer healing to people. Based on his experience of building “street gardens,” he distilled three success factors, namely: working with local gardening champions; applying open access principles to the gardens; and using the gardens as vehicles for bringing people together.

The session closed with interactive small-group discussions around topics relating to action, including: personal motivation; setting a clear vision and goals; creating a motivating environment; and communicating and crafting messages.

The Urban Gateway: Sparking an Interest in Nature among the World’s City-Dwellers: David Ainsworth, CBD Secretariat, moderated the session. After short interventions, each presenter led individual roundtables that captured experiences from the audience on each of the eight topics.

Kathy Eyles, Australian National University, and Jasmine Foxlee, Australian Capital Territory Parks and Conservation Service, discussed: engaging volunteers through the ParkCare Programme; recruiting youth volunteers; and creating a sense of community through volunteerism.

Marcia Pradines, US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), presented on urban wildlife refuge, including how FWS implements eight standards of excellence, and evaluation measures and partnerships with municipalities to engage new audiences and develop “conservation constituencies.”

Ellen Bertrand, Parks Canada, talked about the creation of Rouge National Urban Park, within a one-hour commute of 20% of Canada’s population, saying the park is envisioned as a gateway to inspire new generations to connect with nature and the broader PA system. She led a joint roundtable with Daniel Raven-Ellison, National Geographic, which looked at “unlocking the potential of cities around the world.” Raven-Ellison explained that 80 organizations have come together to develop the Greater London National Park to capitalize on the city’s “green grid” and find creative ways to develop relationships with nature “on people’s doorsteps.”

Alexander MacDonald, Nature Canada, led a discussion on: breaking visitors’ perceived barriers to venturing into parks; focusing on stewardship at the neighborhood level; multi-lingual programming; and using Important Bird Areas to educate youth and promote citizen science on migrating wildlife.

Collin O’Mara-Green, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, explored outreach conducted by natural history museums and creative ways to “create first contact” with urban populations and youth.

Mark Graham, Canadian Museum of Nature, presented on the museum’s popular Nature Nocturne, party events that target 19-35 year-olds to explore the museum and share the experience on social media. He led a roundtable on the potential of large floor maps to orient people with their surrounding green spaces.

Tiago Pinto-Pereira, World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, led a discussion on how to conduct outreach that affects changes in consumption and behavior choices.


A high-level roundtable event convened on Tuesday morning, with IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng opening the event. He said the environmental leaders present need to “raise the bar” on countries’ performance regarding PAs worldwide, and noted the Promise of Sydney will aim to provide best practices through sharing experiences and wisdom from around the world.

Session Co-Chairs Peter Cochrane, Australia’s World Parks Congress Ambassador, and Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General, invited delegates to provide their inputs and considerations to inform the vision and required actions, which would be captured in the Promise of Sydney outcome document.

Simon Birmingham, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, Australia, noted that despite enormous growth in terrestrial and marine PAs, significant challenges persist, which need to be addressed over the next decade through building effective partnerships among governments, local communities, businesses and the private sector.

Robert Stokes, New South Wales Minister for Environment and Minister for Heritage, Australia, suggested the Promise of Sydney will provide an opportunity to reframe the debate on conservation from “one of conflict to one of conversation.”

During the ensuing discussion on countries’ perspectives to be included in the Promise of Sydney vision, several delegates stressed the need to raise awareness and convince both leaders and people of the benefits of biodiversity. Many participants suggested forming a group of high-level leaders who could spread the message among their peers globally.

Participants also emphasized, inter alia: the centrality of conservation to human wellbeing and the economy; the need to “move out of silos,” including those of the three Rio Conventions; partnerships at different levels; recognizing the benefits provided by PAs, and ensuring these flow to the local communities and custodians; creating sources of income for communities living in PAs, including ecotourism; education and communication; ecological corridors and avoiding fragmentation of PAs; ending illegal trade in wildlife; measuring wellbeing beyond the gross domestic product (GDP); and facilitating financial mechanisms that will enable both public and private sectors to contribute to conservation.

One delegate stressed the need to “bring to the table people not in the conservation business,” and change perceptions from “conservation as anti-development” to “conservation being about development.”

One participant stressed the need not only to commit to establishing and expanding PAs, but also to secure funding and ensure their good management.

A delegate suggested including in the Promise of Sydney vision: a reference to the SDGs; sustainable utilization of natural resources for present and future generations; “conservation as a core” in development; quality of PAs alongside quantity; and regional partnerships to support the WPC.

A participant noted the need to stop “illegal activities on our biodiversity,” stressing education and changing perceptions relating to natural resources as keys to addressing over-exploitation. One delegate reminded all of the important role of the men and women who dedicate their lives to the protection of natural resources and ecosystems, and urged selecting a UN ambassador for wildlife crime as well as passing a related UN resolution. A minister urged greater interaction and integration among the different MEAs.

On country commitments over the next decade, one participant shared his government’s commitments to set up new marine parks for the protection of mangroves, and empower local committees to serve as “eyes on the ground.” Several government representatives announced commitments to increase PA coverage, including a minister who pledged to increase his country’s PAs by 27, and expand 12 PAs to increase the overall PA territory over the next decade. One delegate reiterated his country’s promise made at WPC 2014 to increase the share of PAs to 20% of his country’s territory by 2020.

Another delegate outlined initiatives from her country to transform the environmental sector, including establishing a viable wildlife economy that benefits all stakeholders, and growing the blue economy through unlocking the potential of oceans without “stripping them bare.”

Another minister promised his country would continue to invest in biodiversity conservation, build awareness among youth and local communities, and stop poaching. A deputy minister announced that, over the next decade, her country would, among other things: create 60,000 sustainable jobs and two million hectares of conserved land; ensure US$1 billion in equity in the hands of indigenous people; and support more than one million beneficiaries currently living in poverty.

Closing the session, Birmingham thanked participants for their passion and commitments, and assured them of Australia’s commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for PAs globally, regionally and nationally.


Three parallel closing plenaries convened on Tuesday afternoon to hear summaries and recommendations from the eight stream session leaders and cross-cutting themes.

PART I: On Reaching Conservation Goals, Stream 1, stream leaders highlighted the recently-launched Protected Planet Report 2014 and the IUCN Green List of Protected Areas. They outlined the main stream recommendations, including: going beyond numeric targets; focusing action “where biodiversity is and where it is threatened”; addressing the challenge that only 24% of PAs are considered well-managed; focusing on adequate resourcing; tackling legal downgrading and de-gazettement; and endorsing new governance types such as ICCAs and private PAs. They underscored going beyond Aichi Target 11 (Protected Areas), noting that some stream participants recommended setting ambitious targets of sustainably managing up to 50% land and seascapes.

On the World Heritage cross-cutting theme, stream leaders highlighted: restoration of threatened sites; preventing industrial extractive activity in World Heritage Sites; development of World Heritage Site criteria for wilderness; greater emphasis on connectivity between sites; and ensuring respect for indigenous peoples’ rights, and their full and effective involvement in equitable management of World Heritage sites; and benefit sharing. They noted the IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2014 as a tool to engage partners in stewardship of sites along with the COMPACT model of community-based initiatives and GEF small grants programme.

On Enhancing Diversity and Quality of Governance, Stream 6, stream leaders recommended: putting transnational wildlife crime “out of business,” including through devolved wildlife governance, traceability mechanisms and transboundary cooperation; shifting the paradigm from top-down to shared governance with a strong legal basis; deepening understanding of governance issues through country-specific assessments; and developing governance standards and guidance. They also noted the importance of implementing governance-related policies, such as national biodiversity strategies and action plans, and observing human rights enshrined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On Inspiring a New Generation, Stream 8, stream leaders underscored that new ways of tackling longstanding challenges for PAs should include facilitating inter-generational mentorships, and use online and social media platforms to connect urban populations to nature. They underscored how facilitating special interactions with nature at early ages leads to transformative experiences, and engenders a culture of stewardship. They noted a recommendation to hold a young people’s gathering every two years to empower current and future leaders, and presented the stream’s contribution to the Promise of Sydney: the Young People’s Pact, which outlines commitments, principles and actions.

PART II: Ignace Schops, EUROPARC Federation, and Charlotte Karibuhoye, IUCN WCPA, moderated this session.

Reporting on Responding to Climate Change, Stream 2, stream leaders outlined key messages, including on the need for: communities to drive adaptation to ensure ownership and sustainability of initiatives; building capacity for PA management; planning conservation goals with climate change in mind; and effective communication.

On recommendations, they mentioned, inter alia: a call for the outcome of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, to give full recognition to biodiversity, ecosystems and PAs as key enablers in climate change adaptation; positioning PAs as solutions to climate change; engaging new thinking in planning and management of PAs; and new and strengthened partnerships for climate change adaptation to protect landscapes and seascapes.

Reporting on Improving Health and Wellbeing, Stream 3 leaders emphasized unlocking the value of parks and PAs while conserving biodiversity as the key recommendation for improving health and wellbeing. They also mentioned: building knowledge and research; providing indigenous communities with access to places of importance; integrating preventive health into planning processes; building skills for the health and wellbeing sector to realize the value of PAs; strengthening policies to promote the role of nature in health and wellbeing; and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to engage with nature.

On Supporting Human Life, Stream 4, stream leaders outlined conclusions and recommendations around three issues. Recommendations on food security included: local solutions that place people at the center of management; a human rights-based approach to conservation; and recognizing the contributions of PAs to food security. On water, the stream recognized PAs as a key element in delivering water-related services. Outcomes relating to disaster risk reduction focused on priority actions to advance natural solutions, including through science, management and communication.

On the Marine cross-cutting theme, theme leaders highlighted preparatory work through a framework structured around “protecting more, involving more, and investing more,” and summarized key recommendations on: MPA targets and management effectiveness; integration with the climate change framework to advance PAs as part of the solution; creating and managing MPAs that sustain human needs, and stressing the importance of ecosystem services; integrating oceans in the SDGs; working with indigenous and local communities; and using new technology to “engage, inspire and manage.”

In the discussion, panelists addressed: management and enforcement of areas outside territorial waters; examples of promoting cultural heritage; and ways to improve communication on parks and PAs, including through social media, adapting language to target audiences, and funding young professionals to take part in events such as the WPC.

PART III: Lee White, National Parks Agency, Gabon, and Mike Wong, Parks Canada, moderated the discussion.

On Reconciling Development Challenges, Stream 5, stream leaders stressed that investment in PAs has received less recognition than infrastructure development, and noted a need for policy-relevant information and data, particularly on PES, and innovative mechanisms for PA financing. They recommended, inter alia: integrating PA values into approaches to economic development; providing approaches to manage and connect land and seascapes; integrating PAs into key sectoral plans, national sustainable development goals and the post-2015 development framework; and ensuring social and environmental safeguards for better understanding of costs and benefits, and the tradeoffs and risks of PAs.

Stream 7, on Respecting Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Culture, reported that even though much has been achieved since the WPC in Durban, indigenous peoples and local communities have not yet become full partners in PA management. They recommended that, inter alia: collective land and resource rights of indigenous peoples and local communities to land and seas be recognized; full participation of indigenous women and youth in PA development and management be achieved; PAs observe rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and that IUCN develop a new category of indigenous PAs. They also recommended that: the distinction between natural and cultural World Heritage Sites be eliminated; formal education opportunities be created to include indigenous cultural skills and accreditation pathways for rangers and trackers; and innovative financing mechanisms be created to support promotion of indigenous economies.

On the cross-cutting theme of Capacity Development, theme leaders recommended: mainstreaming capacity development into all levels of PA management and national governance systems; and supporting the vision of a world where institutions and individuals receive knowledge and skills, and implement best practices to effectively manage and equitably govern all types of PAs, including territories governed by indigenous peoples and local communities. The stream proposed a Capacity Development Road Map to provide directions for achieving the levels of capacity development required for effective management.

On the cross-cutting theme of a New Social Compact, representatives from Canada’s First Nations and New Zealand Maori communities called for an honest reassessment of historical injustices in the name of conservation, and moving from fragmentation to integration, both “within and without.”

In the discussions, participants said that: the WPC has enabled dialogues and networking; issues of economic growth were the “elephant in the room,” and require more consideration; and investments in PAs need to reconcile needs of the environment and the people.


PART I: At the closing plenary on Wednesday morning, IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre noted that nearly 100 concrete action commitments toward the Promise of Sydney had been made by governments, organizations and individuals globally.

Stressing the role of biodiversity and PAs for “our future,” Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of Madagascar, announced conservation would be at the core of his country’s sustainable development strategy, and committed, inter alia, to: tripling Madagascar’s MPAs; adopting a zero-tolerance policy on illegal trade of natural resources; and ensuring that PAs established under the country’s “Durban Vision” commitment are accorded a definitive protected status by May 2015.

Fouad Mohadji, Vice-President of the Comoros, committed to turning, by 2017, 22% of the country’s land and 5% of its EEZ into PAs. He expressed an intention to develop seven new PAs, and make progress on ongoing World Heritage Site and biosphere reserve projects. Referring to capacity restraints, he invited conservation and PA-related global NGOs to support the Comoros in its efforts, and envisioned a national trust fund for the management of PAs.

Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, Australia, outlined commitments on three levels. He announced the appointment of Melissa George, Indigenous Advisory Committee, to lead a task force for a national plan drafted by indigenous land and sea managers, and a pledge to train 1,000 young indigenous Australians as rangers. Regionally, he promised to support ending deforestation by 2030, and committed “significant funds” to the Coral Triangle Initiative. Internationally, he said Australia would support UN resolutions on ending wildlife trafficking and protecting global oceans, and announced Australia and China had committed to a permanent ban on mining in Antarctica.

Sergey Donskoy, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, the Russian Federation, announced that, over the next decade, his country would create 27 federal reserves, and expand the area of 12 extant reserves. He also said his country would increase the total area of federally protected areas by 22% and that of MPAs to 17 million hectares, and protect critical habitats of important threatened species. He further announced the Russian Federation’s willingness to host the seventh WPC in 2024.

Barbara Thomson, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, said that, by 2024, her country would create at least 60,000 new sustainable jobs and two million hectares of new conservation land, and support more than a million poverty-stricken people. She announced South Africa’s commitment to tripling ocean protection through the creation of a network of MPAs within its EEZ, and supporting the establishment of a regional MPA network.

Xavier Sticker, Ambassador for the Environment, France, announced commitments to: support its Southern partners’ PA conservation efforts with US$160 million annually; mobilize forces to establish, by the end of 2015, an international instrument for the protection of the oceans; and seek to position PAs as part of the solution to climate change in the context of France’s Presidency of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference. He also announced the promise to protect 35,000 hectares of mangroves by the end of 2015.

The statements were followed by a musical performance by Rako Pasefika, a group of artists from Fiji.

Penelope Figgis, Director, IUCN Australian National Committee, presented a distillation of key messages from each WPC 2014 stream and cross-cutting theme. These are captured in a summary of Promise of Sydney below.

PART II: Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN, presented the panel and moderated the discussions focusing on the topic “Inspiring Solutions: Communicating the Message and Stories for Protected Areas.” Beth Foster, Communications Vice-President, National Geographic Society remarked that “stories are vehicles that take people to what they care about.” She said that, in 2016, her organization will focus more on sharing stories of people, adding that “we do not want to be the organization that documents the demise of the world’s natural resources,” but to tell good stories of people’s successes in nature conservation. She added that story telling is personal, and has to be relevant to individuals in each audience.

Thomas Friedman, journalist and author, The New York Times, said the deterioration of environmental health is going to affect national security today more than any other conflict-causing factor. As an example he reported that the Syrian revolution in 2010 was preceded by a four-year drought that caused migration of disgruntled and desperate rural farmers into the city, who joined the revolution easily when the opportunity presented itself. He emphasized that stories spread messages faster and further because people relate to stories, and that the best-selling books in the world’s history are those that tell the stories of people.

Adrian Steirn, wildlife photographer, suggested that, “narrative is everything.” Through a series of photos he showed how narrative can change peoples’ perspectives of a subject, enabling awareness and causing them to care more about something. Noting that conservation on its own is no longer compelling enough, he emphasized the opportunity to shift paradigms of society through the message of self-preservation and to translate awareness into action. He said that 100 years from now, future generations will be as shocked at our destruction of nature as we are today of the burning of witches 500 years ago.

Jeff Koinange, talk show host, Kenya Television Network, said that “it all boils down to individuals” and what they are willing to do after a congress of this nature. He praised WPC 2014 for its youth involvement noting that 10-20 years ago the message to youth was that they would have to wait for their time to get involved. He challenged participants to share their stories by actions and campaigns of restoration at small scales rather than waiting for government action.

PART III: The plenary observed a one-minute silence in memory of rangers who have sacrificed their lives on the frontline of anti-poaching activities, and in memory of two IUCN colleagues: former IUCN Director General Kenton Miller; and the first IUCN Director General, Gerardo Budowski.

Bill Jackson, Chief Executive, Parks Victoria, made opening remarks and commended the men and women who place their lives at risk for nature preservation. Jackson reported a story of a ranger from Gabon who recently had three friends killed by poachers, and who wept as he said, “I have found my family,” among the rangers attending the WPC 2014.

Via video link, Jane Goodall, Jane Goodall Institute, applauded rangers around the world who, with little equipment and in times of conflict when they may not even receive their salary, continue to protect conservation areas. She commended their courage in the face of dangers and hardship, and expressed her sympathy to the bereaved families of rangers killed in the line of duty. She called on all WPC participants to think of ways to support rangers and their families.

Goodall announced Luigi Eybrecht, ranger at Bonaire National Marine Park, as the inaugural winner of the Jane Goodall Award, noting that he had overcome many challenges including homelessness, to undertake teaching young people about the wonders of the natural world.

Jackson Willmore announced Maximilian Jenes, Ruvuma Elephant Project Coordinator, Pams Tanzania, as one of two joint winners of the International Young Conservation Award, supported by Parks Victoria, in recognition for his work in ranger training and community-based anti-poaching activities to protect elephants, which have resulted in many arrests and seizure of firearms. WPC Co-Chair Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich introduced the other joint winner, Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa, Malawi, for her ornithological research on species of ecological concern and for instilling volunteerism in local communities, noting the rarity of a Malawian woman working in conservation.

Sean Willmore, Director, Thin Green Line Foundation, presented the International Ranger Federation Lifetime Achievement Award to Jean Pierre Jobogo Mirindi, DRC, for his work in protecting gorilla populations around the DRC-Rwanda border, including through times of conflict.

Natasha Miller, Global Conservation Initiatives and daughter of Kenton R. Miller, presented the eponymous award in recognition of innovative approaches in conservation. She presented Sukianto Lusli, Agus Budi Utomo and Yusup Cahyadin, Indonesia, with the award for their advocacy and leadership in protection of lowland forest, which has resulted in a change in national policy to allow community management of around half a million hectares of production forest in Sumatra on a 95-year lease.

Enkerlin-Hoeflich presented the Fred M. Packard International Parks Merit Award to seven awardees for their leadership in conservation, namely: the rangers of Virunga National Park, DRC; Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend, IUCN Social Policy Programme; Alan Latourelle, Parks Canada; Cláudio C. Maretti, IUCN World Commission on PAs; Harvey Locke, Canadian conservationist; Peter Cochrane, Parks Australia; and Widodo Sukohadi Ramono, Ujung Kulon National Park, Indonesia.

Sally Barnes, Parks Australia, Trevor Sandwith, IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, and Michael Wright, New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, presented the Promise of Sydney vision, which underscores that threats to biodiversity and PAs are at their highest due to human consumption patterns, population growth, and industrial activity.

On the promise to invigorate, they underscored, inter alia: scaling up representative protection of landscapes and seascapes; enhancing diversity and quality of governance and management systems; recognition of areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities; eliminating illegal wildlife trade; and tackling invasive alien species.

On the promise to inspire, they highlighted, inter alia: engaging a new generation of urban and rural communities in PAs; PAs as essential investments in future sustainability; recognition of the collective rights and responsibilities of Indigenous Peoples and local communities to land, natural resources, and culture; and seeking to redress past and continuing injustices.

On the promise to invest in nature’s solutions, they stressed, inter alia: public policies, incentives, tools, and safeguards to halt biodiversity loss; services to respond to climate change, reduce impacts of disasters, and improve food and water security; and making the case for increased incentives and direct funding. They concluded by encouraging partnerships for sustainable economies that respect planetary boundaries and social justice.

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng closed the plenary by stating that the Promise of Sydney was an outcome of rich deliberations and will remain a live document. He noted the IUCN will keep a friendly yet firm watch over the implementation of country commitments, and invited participants to showcase actions made on the Promise of Sydney at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.


IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre expressed appreciation for her years at the helm of IUCN, and pledged to keep the spirit of IUCN’s mission alive in her heart, mind and actions. She noted her personal commitment is to strive for a more equitable world in which the value of nature is fully understood and appreciated.

WPC Co-Chair Ernesto Enkerlin Hoeflich said the end of the WPC 2014 “is the beginning for the Promise of Sydney.” He noted the importance of the CBD as a partner in the plan of work on PAs after the Durban WPC, and urged participants to “go beyond” their plans and aim to achieve the SDGs.

Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, Australia, thanked all concerned in making the WPC a success. Rob Stokes, New South Wales Minister for Environment and Heritage, Australia, called for “connecting our parks and our communities socially,” to include those who have been excluded due to disability, poverty and lack of information, highlighting the need to “reshape the conversation about conservation.”

Agus Budi Utomo presented on behalf of two other co-awardees of the Kenton Miller Award, Sukianto Lusli and Yusup Cahyadin of Burung Indonesia, honored for implementation of innovative approaches to forest conservation in Indonesia. He said the Harapan Rainforest on Sumatra Island is the first and only restoration concession in Indonesia, for purposes of restoring ecosystem services and noted that their work has led to national legislation to support development of non-logging concessions.

Jeffery Lee, Djok clan and traditional landowner, was honored for his 30-year struggle to ensure that his traditional homeland Koongarra is protected from uranium mining. He thanked UNESCO for modifying the borders of Kakadu National Park and World Heritage Site to incorporate this land. He said that the customs, nature and traditions of his people are now preserved and the rock art in the PA will continue to tell the story of his ancestors.

Duane Fraser, traditional owner and Indigenous Participation Programme, thanked UNESCO for recognizing the Great Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site, and called for recognition of the need for its collaborative long-term management by the government, traditional landowners, and other agencies. He also urged for: the recognition of the authenticity of traditional management practices and protection of cultural and natural integrity of the Great Barrier Reef. He called for traditional owners to be allowed to lead effective management of landscapes and for all large-scale developments and extractive industries that threaten natural resources to cease.

Jessica Watson, Australian sailor and WPC 2014 Champion, hosted the final part of the closing ceremony.

Daniela Benavides, Founder, conCIENCIA, explained how her NGO had involved over 100 people by leveraging the power of technology, saying that, “young people create an unquantifiable energy.”

The audience heard two music performances, including one by Ta’Kaiya Blaney and Corrina Kelling, and watched a video prepared during the Congress showing youth action commitments, which ended with the call: “We commit to being the leaders of tomorrow. What do you commit to?”

Marton-Lefèvre thanked the Australian and New South Wales governments, WPC 2014 Patrons, Champions and Steering Committees, stream and cross-cutting theme leaders, Congress partners, the IUCN WCPA, IUCN and Australian staff and volunteers, and the people, in particular indigenous people and youth, of Australia, for making the Congress a success. She declared the 2014 IUCN WPC closed at 13:44.


The Future Is Not What It Used To Be: How Parks Can Help Build a More Resilient Future: On Thursday evening, the first World Leaders’ Dialogue on “The Future Is Not What It Used To Be: How Parks Can Help Build a More Resilient Future,” was moderated by Jeff Horowitz, Founder of Avoided Deforestation Partners. Providing his definition of resilience as “an opportunity to create a better world,” Horowitz explained that the need for resilient supply chains led major global companies to join a pledge at the 2014 UN Climate Summit to end global deforestation by 2030.

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng defined resilience as preparing for uncertainty in a world that is becoming smaller, flatter, hotter and more crowded. Paula Caballero, Senior Director, Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, the World Bank Group, stressed the need to keep in mind the symbiotic relationship between climate change and human beings. She also emphasized the role of mayors and municipal leaders in helping to establish this connection.

Responding to a request to relate personal experiences in discovering the connection between environmental protection and climate change, Tommy Remengesau Jr., President of Palau, explained how coral bleaching in his country, and the realization that nature can be resilient if allowed to rejuvenate, led to the designation of Palau’s coral reefs as MPAs.

In discussing how environmental change has forced societal change, Remengesau said his country’s way of life is under threat, and noted that, due to sea-level rise, some islands are purchasing land from New Zealand to relocate their people. Margareta Wahlström, Head UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), expressed concern over the impact of increasing rates of urbanization globally on PAs, “if nature remains an exotic product.” Caballero suggested a “silver lining” exists in stories of resilience as a result of interconnectedness between nature and humans, and called for the Promise of Sydney to include messages on how nature has helped safeguard human beings.

On the role of youth in building resilience, Sally Jewell, US Secretary of Interior, shared examples of urban youth rebuilding landscapes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and young “citizen horticulturalists” restoring natural habitats by reintroducing sagebrush plants after wildfires in Idaho, US.

Reflecting on their views on the recent US-China announcement to reduce GHG emissions, Jewell and Zhang expressed pride in both countries’ spirit of collaboration and affirmed the targets would be achievable. Jewell described the agreement as a “huge step forward,” and Zhang said it would pave the way for the upcoming UN climate change conferences in Lima and Paris.

Responding to a question received via Twitter on empowering women to enhance resilience, Wahlström explained that many women’s groups she had encountered had expressed the desire to be seen as community actors, and called for “making it our job to make the work done by women visible.”

Ante Up: Money Matters and the Value of Parks: This dialogue took place on Friday evening. The session opened with a World Business Council on Sustainable Development film clip, making the case for why natural resources should be accounted for on companies’ balance sheets. Moderator Jo Confino, Executive Editor of The Guardian newspaper, invited panelists to comment.

Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General designate, 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 to 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 other financial instruments with a long-term view of investment, comparing the current potential for green investments with the initial growth of Silicon Valley, which he said 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.

Stand Up for Your Rights: Parks and Social Equity: The dialogue, which took place on Saturday evening, began with a poem on the rights of people and the importance of cultural identity by Hawaiian poet, Jamaica Osorio.

Facilitator Patsy Doerr, Thomson Reuters, noted her company has increased its recognition of the emerging opportunities to combine corporate responsibility, diversity and sustainability. Panelists discussed, among other issues: the role of education and awareness creation in enhancing the rights of communities; factors that have led to marginalization of community rights to natural resources; and the role of corporations operating in community lands in marginalization and exclusion of communities.

Ricardo Rozzi, Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program, outlined the diminishing value of indigenous languages and traditions during Chile’s history of dicatorship. He emphasized that respecting rights of communities to natural and cultural heritage depends on the capacity of governments and others to monitor and sanction corporations that exclude communities and are involved in land grabbing, pollution and other destructive activities.

Sally Ranney, American Renewable Energy Institute, remarked that the exclusion of native Americans from their territories, and the imposition of formal education had deprived them of their rights. She underlined that respecting these rights in relation to present parks and PAs is compromised because their governance has been “purchased by corporations” that also control the politics of many countries.

Luvuyo Mandela, Tyathumzi Advisory, said that South African rural societies have been taught that “anything outside cities is not worthwhile,” which has caused rural-urban migration and undermined jobs in nature conservation. He added that young people do not consider park ranger jobs as “real careers.” Mandela said that corporations operating in community lands often consider communities as sources of cheap labor, adding that this impoverishes them further. He noted that communities should be empowered to negotiate for better deals, and called for a paradigm shift in how local communities take part in decision making.

Myrna Cunningham Kain, former Chair, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, emphasized that poverty is not a natural condition of indigenous communities but a state caused by the loss of their access to natural resources. Kain underscored that under the current structure, expansion of PAs will marginalize communities even further. Supporting Mandela’s call for a paradigm shift, she called for the WPC to promote mechanisms for community involvement in the governance and management of natural resources.

Lucky Sherpa, Green Forum, Nepal, said that even though corporations have begun to recognize the rights of communities to natural and cultural resources, they lack understanding of the issues, adding that communities also need to know their rights.

Food for Thought: Feeding Nine Billion Within Our Planetary Boundaries: The dialogue, which took place on Sunday afternoon, opened with a traditional greeting and statement read by Reza Saleh, Abdlhasan Tribal Confederacy, Iran, and Ghanimat Azhdari Centre for Sustainable Development and Environment, Iran, on behalf of nomadic and indigenous peoples. They called on the Congress to support the right of communities to govern their own land and resources, adapt to natural challenges, and achieve food security.

Facilitator Randa Fouad, President, Arab Media Forum for Environment and Development, reported that the current consumption-based model of the developed world, including a diet of meat and dairy products, has taken the greatest toll on earth’s resources in centuries, and can no longer be sustained.

Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Market Transformation, WWF US, provided an overview of the world’s food production status, and said the immediate challenge over the next 40 years is to provide as much food as during the last 8,000 years, without increasing resource use. He urged greater productivity, efficiency and waste reduction to eliminate the effects of two billion people consuming more than they should.

Sylvia Earle, National Geographic, and WPC 2014 Patron, warned that since the mid-20th century, 90% of fish species have been extirpated, and said humans tend to overharvest the top of the food chain from the ocean, which also includes fish species with long reproduction cycles, thus reducing their ability to reproduce.

On the role of PAs in securing food production, Thomas Lovejoy, UN Foundation and George Mason University, emphasized that PAs should not be seen only as source of resources, but also valued for their critical ecosystem services.

Guillermo Castilleja, Chief Program Officer, Environmental Conservation, and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, noted that the significant increase in PAs over the past 50 years appears to have halted, and warned that many areas are being de-gazetted. In relation to a question regarding the difficulty of finding a balance between conservation and development, he stressed the need to find solutions rapidly, and address these at scale and “in concert” with one another while also considering the trade-offs.

Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, reported that in the last 40 years, more than one third of the world’s population has increased its daily calorie intake by 200 calories per day and food productivity has doubled four times. Reporting on the statistics of global water and food waste, she emphasized the importance of increasing productivity and restoring degraded land, and said rehabilitating five million hectares of land will be sufficient to feed the world in 2050.

Alcinda Abreu, Minister for Coordinating Environmental Affairs, Mozambique, stressed the need to institutionalize the human right for adequate food and nutrition, and to mainstream food security and nutrition into poverty reduction programmes. She lamented many cultural practices in Africa that lead to unhealthy diets, and urged community involvement and awareness raising, especially among women who, she said, are key in changing habits.

Suseno Sukoyono, Director General, Agency of Human Resources Development and Training, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia, stressed the importance of capacity building and engagement with local communities in his country’s environmental initiatives, including training of over 2,000 rangers and imposing a moratorium on fishing vessels.

Health, Naturally: Managing Healthy Parks for Healthy People: This dialogue session convened on Sunday night. Moderating the session, Nik Sekhran, UNDP, noted that the World Health Organization estimates that 23-25% of global disease burden could be avoided through better environmental management.

Julia Duncan Cassell, Minister of Gender and Development, Liberia, delivered a video address, in which she stressed the interlinkages between the environment, development and health. Speaking on the Ebola outbreak, she underscored that this global health and humanitarian crisis requires collective action.

On links between ecological disturbance and increases in disease incidence and vector populations, Jonathan Patz, University of Wisconsin-Madison, provided examples, including how climate change affects the spread of malaria and studies showing how conservation of intact forerest increases biodiversity and reduces incidence of Lyme disease. He stated that “conservation biologists can save more lives and prevent more illness than the health sector.”

On how PAs can contribute health solutions, Bill Jackson, Parks Victoria, lamented that with the growing trend of urbanizing populations becoming isolated from nature, there is a growth in lifestyle-related diseases, including some cancers, diabetes, joint injury, mental illness and stress. He underscored developing partnerships between parks and the health sector, highlighting the Active in Parks Programme and the “Green Scripts” Programme, in which doctors prescribe patients visits to PAs to address chronic disease and restorative health. Frank Hugelmeyer, Outdoor Industry Association, US, noted the growing body of research supporting the creation of parks in urban areas. On the economics of the health sector, he stressed that proximity of park infrastructure resulted in active people with lower healthcare costs, explaining that in Los Angeles, 32% of teens are less likely to be overweight if they live within 10 minutes’ walk of a park.

On linkages between conservation, public health, and development, Fouad Mohadji, Vice-President, the Comoros stressed the role of MPAs in improving food security, boosting the provision of environmental services, and as tools for reducing non-communicable disease. Focusing on ecosystem services, he noted the importance of connections between MPAs and terrestrial zones. Christopher Golden, Wildlife Conservation Society, argued for reframing policy narratives so as to look at the co-benefits between sectors. He noted that malnutrition is the single leading risk factor for death and is debilitating from a development standpoint. He called for promoting MPAs as a tool for sustainable health management.

On parks and cities, participants spoke about the need for health and environment practitioners to make policy arguments for green spaces, and to better communicate that investment in nature-based preventative health yields co-benefits for PAs and people. Guillermo Penalosa, 8-80 Cities, said there is a narrow window of opportunity over the next 30 years to build appropriately designed and healthy cities. Hugelmeyer stressed the economic benefits of parks, noting that consumers spend US$646 billion annually on recreation in the US, and that 6.1 million jobs relate to the outdoor industry, generating US$80 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

The Nature of Crime: The Extent and Impact of Illegal Wildlife Trade: The event, which took place on Monday evening, was moderated by Paul Rose, Vice President, Royal Geographical Society, who described wildlife crime as “a battle on all fronts.”

Noting the international organized crime dimension of wildlife crime, and stressing there is “no silver bullet,” WWF Director General Marco Lambertini, outlined, as solutions to the problem, ending: buying; trafficking; and poaching.

Lee White, Director, Gabon National Parks Service, described how the shift in poaching to organized criminal groups has transformed wildlife crime into an issue of national political priority, due to related security and economic impacts.

Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment, Australia, described his country’s work to stop poaching domestically, and to support international efforts, including through satellite monitoring.

Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, South Africa, stressed the importance of communities seeing “more value in a live animal than a dead one,” and emphasized the importance of integrated strategies that incorporate law enforcement and community engagement.

Mary Rice, Head, Environmental Investigation Agency, stressed the need for cooperation across ministries and agencies based on a shared understanding that wildlife crime is a national issue.

Sean Willmore, President, International Ranger Federation, called for proper training and supply of equipment to rangers, and stressed the need to protect and increase the self-respect of rangers, including as a strategy to combat corruption.

On combating corruption, Widodo Ramono, Executive Director, Rhino Foundation of Indonesia, suggested working with local communities, and using the press for communicating on prosecutions ofwildlife criminals.

John Scanlon, Secretary-General, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), underscored the need to apply similar techniques and technologies as those used to combat other types of crime, such as the “controlled delivery” method and use of modern forensics.

Rosie Cooney, Chair, IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group, drew attention to the evolution of rights of indigenous peoples and the role of local communities in protecting and stewarding natural resources. On legal trade, she noted that “the black market is hemorrhaging ivory from Africa” to supply demand stimulated by regulated domestic markets.

Nadya Hutagalung, Co-founder, Let Elephants Be Elephants, and Lambertini stressed the need for targeted messages, including to “individuals not converted” and to specific consumer audiences as well as working on social acceptability.

On inputs to the Promise of Sydney outcome document, panelists mentioned, inter alia: the importance of political support at the highest level; governance; implementation of laws and policies; championing and supporting rangers; mobilizing resources for fighting illegal trade in wildlife; coordination at all levels, from subnational to international; focusing on community engagement and positioning wildlife as an important component of land use; support and funds for education in countries driving demand, in particular in Asia; and working and collaborating through the UN.

A Balancing Act: How the Global Appetite for Mineral Resources Defines the Fate of Protected Areas: Introducing the session which took place on Tuesday evening, moderator Thomas Friedman, New York Times, emphasized the need for a better understanding of the nature of economic and environmental trade-offs, noting that PAs are “not just big zoos,” but represent engines of economic development.

Emmanuel de Merode, Chief Warden, Virunga National Park, DRC, contrasted the death toll from recent conflict with the possibility of providing many new jobs in natural resource-based sectors. He noted that park management had been “an island of stability” in the region.

Melissa George, Chair, Indigenous Advisory Committee, Australia, noted that while Australian Aboriginals have “a seat at the table” to negotiate benefit sharing from extraction activities, both the irreversibility of such activities and their cumulative impacts must be considered.

Anthony Hodge, President, International Council on Mining and Metals, asked how mining projects can be designed to ensure both human and ecosystem wellbeing, adding that, in many jurisdictions around the world, the responsibilities for managing the costs of risk are currently ill-defined.

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General, highlighted that the costs of adequately managing a global network of PAs equal only 2.5% of global military expenditure. Noting the role of parks and PAs in carbon storage, she said the issues of the WPC are closely linked to issues of climate change.

Hery Rajaonarimampianina, President of Madagascar, called for economic development to be framed by a long-term, sustainable approach, which includes consideration of human wellbeing. He highlighted the need for legal and regulatory frameworks, and for leaders and heads of government to ensure the compatibility of economic investment with safeguarding of the natural environment.

Robert Hill, former Minister for the Environment, Australia, said that adequately supporting PAs requires a balancing act, noting that it is easier for his country to place natural values ahead of economic gain, compared with developing countries.

Wang Wenbiao, CEO, Elion Resources Group, described his 30-year career in fighting desertification and land degradation in China. He said that, in his native region, re-afforestation and restoration of ecosystems have raised incomes from US$100 per capita annually in the 1980s to US$5,000 today, and created 100,000 jobs, through replanting species suitable for cold and arid conditions as well as plants used in traditional Chinese medicine.

In the discussion, participants noted: the difficulty of reconciling immediate benefits from minerals extraction with a commitment to future generations; the need to live more simply and reduce environmental impacts; and the value of conducting Strategic Environmental Assessments before commencing extractive projects.

Panelists’ “take-away messages” included: the need for free, prior and informed consent with regard to minerals extraction projects; the introduction of a strong “no-go” statement on conservation in the Promise of Sydney; a focus on the SDGs in 2015; and the need for equitable, just and fair governance.


The 2014 IUCN WPC outcome document, titled “The Promise of Sydney,” lays out an agenda for safeguarding the earth’s natural assets over the coming decade, based on four pillars: a core vision reflecting high-level aspirations and recommendations; twelve innovative approaches for transformative change, representing the outcomes of the eight streams and four cross-cutting themes of the Congress; a web portal collating case studies on how PAs provide solutions to global challenges; and promises by countries, groups of countries, funders, organizations and other partners on advancing action and support relating to PAs.

The Promise of Sydney aspires to set a new direction and, sound a call for further efforts and progress, positioning PAs as effective and efficient solutions to reach some of the world’s most challenging development goals. It also outlines a pathway for achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Target to protect at least 17% of land and 10% of oceans by 2020.

The Vision: The Vision document, inter alia, recognizes that human existence depends on ecosystems, and that rebalancing the relationship between human society and nature is essential. It celebrates the expansion and improved governance of protected and conserved areas, and the establishment of new MPAs, around the world. It notes that, despite advances, many protected and conserved areas are at risk, and stresses the need for a bold vision and concerted action to meet both conservation goals and human aspirations for present and future generations. The vision promises to:

  • Invigorate efforts to ensure that PAs do not regress but rather progress;
  • Inspire all people to experience the wonder of nature through PAs; and
  • Invest in nature’s solutions to biodiversity loss, climate change, risk and impact of disasters, food and water security, and human health through public policy, incentives, tools and safeguards.

Innovative Approaches to Transformative Change: Key messages from the Congress streams and cross-cutting themes, summarized during the WPC 2014 closing plenary, include the following:

  • Stream 1, on Reaching Conservation Goals, stresses there is an urgent need for bold action to prevent biodiversity loss, including through more and better managed PAs, and ambitious targets.
  • Stream 2, on Responding to Climate Change, underscores the impacts of climate change on PAs and PAs as natural solutions to climate change, with an emphasis on protecting the Polar regions.
  • Stream 3, on Improving Health and Wellbeing, argues that conservation and good PA management will save more lives and combat more disease than the health sector.
  • Stream 4, on Supporting Human Life, underscores that PAs are the best investment in ecosystem services, and provide important contributions to food and water security.
  • Stream 5, on Reconciling Development Challenges, describes good governance as good development, and calls on countries to maintain their natural capital, and integrate PAs into mainstream planning and development.
  • Stream 6, on Enhancing Diversity and Quality of Governance, calls for recognizing: that greater diversity of governance reflects cultural richness; ICCAs; and the value of private PAs and locally-managed areas.
  • Stream 7, on Respecting Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Culture, emphasizes, among other things, embracing and facilitating the diversity of knowledge, skills and capacity, and recognizing rights and responsibilities towards land.
  • Stream 8, on Inspiring a New Generation, stresses the need to “take kids to nature!” and highlights direct experiences, mentoring, inclusion and empowerment.
  • The World Heritage theme calls for “keeping the outstanding exceptional” and maintaining the integrity of the World Heritage process.
  • Noting that life on earth depends on oceans, the Marine theme describes MPAs as a “beacon of hope,” and stresses as priority areas: the high seas; and the Arctic, Antarctic and Southern Oceans, and the Sargasso Sea.
  • The Capacity Development theme stresses the need for professionalization of PA managers, new partnerships and learning initiatives, and drawing on traditional skills and knowledge.
  • The New Social Compact theme emphasizes issues such as effective and just conservation, and social and ecological connectivity.

Inspiring Solutions: An IUCN online portal, titled Panorama, allows practitioners to share their approaches to tackling problems relating to PAs around the world, with the aim of supporting learning from proven successes across geographies, sectors and scales, and establishing new learning networks. Alongside the first prototype of the web portal, an initial portfolio of case studies was launched during WPC 2014. Panorama is located at:

Promises: Governments, international organizations, indigenous leaders and community groups, businesses, and individuals made Pledges in support of the Promise of Sydney. Among the key country commitments are those by: Australia, to provide AUS$14 million to conservation; Bangladesh, to create the country’s first MPA; Brazil, to protect 5% of its marine waters; China, to increase its PA coverage by at least 20%; French Polynesia, to establish a large-scale MPA initiative; Gabon, to a create network of new MPAs covering 23% of its marine waters; Kiribati and the US, to jointly conserve nearly 490,000 square nautical miles of ocean; Madagascar, to triple its MPAs; Russia, to create 27 new federal PAs and expand an additional 12; and South Africa, to triple ocean protection in the next decade. Commitments by other organizations included: the US National Park Service, to set up a programme to engage 100,000 youth in US PAs; the UNCCD and Elion Foundation, on a public-private partnership to reduce land degradation and increase restoration of degraded land; and the UNDP, to mobilize at least US$100 million to support the diversity and quality of governance of PAs.


Ramsar Convention Regional Pre-COP Meeting - Africa: The Regional Pre-Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for the Africa region will take place to prepare for COP of the Convention on Wetlands to be held in June 2015, in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  dates: 17-21 November 2014  location: Hammamet, Nabeul, Tunisia  contact: Ramsar Secretariat  phone: +41 22 999 0170  fax: +41 22 999 0169  e-mail: www:

Second International Ocean Research Conference (IORC): IORC will bring together the global scientific community to plan for the coming decade of international collaboration in marine science and technology. IORC will also focus on improving ocean governance. The event includes 16 thematic sessions. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO-IOC) and the Oceanographic Society are organizing the conference.  dates: 17-21 November 2014  venue: Barcelona International Conference Center (CCIB), Plaça de Willy Brandt, 11-14 08019  location: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain  contact: Technical Secretariat  phone: +34 932374988  e-mail: www:

Joint CBD, UNCCD Workshop on NBSAPs - NAP Synergies: The Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) are jointly organizing a workshop on synergies for the design, development and implementation of CBD National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and UNCCD National Action Programmes (NAPs). Participants will include those directly responsible for the development, updating and/or implementation of the NBSAPs and the NAPs.  dates: 21-22 November 2014  location: Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt  contact: Secretariat  fax: +1 514 288 6588  e-mail:  www:

INTERPOL Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee Meetings: INTERPOL will host the Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Committee, together with the Wildlife Crime, Fisheries Crime and Pollution Crime Working Groups. These meetings will bring together inter-governmental organizations, law enforcement and government officials nominated by the National Central Bureaus from across INTERPOL’s 190 member countries. The Green Customs Initiative, comprised of the Secretariats of the major multilateral environmental agreements and inter-governmental organizations, will also take this opportunity to hold their annual meeting.  dates: 24-28 November 2014  location: Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France  contact: INTERPOL Secretariat - Environmental Crime Unit  e-mail: www:

UNFCCC COP 20: The 20th session of the Conference of the Parties and the 10th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (UNFCCC) will take place in December 2014 in Peru.  dates: 1-12 December 2014  location: Lima, Peru  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228 815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  e-mail:  www:

Arctic Biodiversity Congress: Organized by the Arctic Council’s Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) working group, this event will promote the conservation and sustainable use of Arctic biodiversity through dialogue among scientists, policy-makers, government officials, industry, civil society and indigenous peoples. It is closely linked to the findings and recommendations of the first Arctic Biodiversity Assessment (ABA) released in May 2013.  dates: 2-4 December 2014  location: Trondheim, Sor-Trondelag, Norway  contact: Congress Secretariat  e-mail: www:

CBD Expert Workshop to Prepare Practical Guidance on Preventing and Mitigating the Significant Adverse Impacts of Marine Debris on Marine and Coastal Biodiversity and Habitats: This workshop is being organized by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) with the support from the European Commission. It will bring together nominated experts to discuss the impacts of marine debris on marine and coastal biodiversity and habitats.  dates: 2-4 December 2014  location: Baltimore, MD, US  contact: CBD Secretariat  e-mail:  www:

First Global Soil Biodiversity Conference: The Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) and EcoFINDERS are organizing this conference. Held under the theme ‘Assessing Soil Biodiversity and Its Role for Ecosystem Services,’ this conference will summarize the current state of knowledge and recent achievements in the science of soil biodiversity. Topics to be addressed include: discovery and observation; tracking and monitoring; assessing pressures and threats; strategies for management and conversation; soil ecology education; and global harmonization of methods for structural and functional diversity of soil organisms.  dates: 2-5 December 2014  venue: Palais des Congrès  location: Dijon, Bourgogne, France  contact: French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)  e-mail:  www:

WIPO Workshop for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities on Intellectual Property and Traditional Knowledge: Organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), this workshop will include about 14 participants from each of the seven geo-cultural regions recognized by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It aims to: impart basic knowledge of the main principles of the intellectual property system from a traditional knowledge perspective; explain the negotiations taking place in the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC); and raise awareness of the available intellectual property tools and WIPO materials that are relevant to the protection of traditional knowledge.  dates: 3-5 December 2014  location: Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland  contact: WIPO Secretariat  fax: +41-22-338-8120  e-mail: www:

2015 International Year of Soils (IYS) Launch: The 68th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2015 as the IYS. The IYS will be formally launched in an event organized during the 69th session of the UNGA. Concurrent launch events will be held at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in Rome, Italy, as well as in Bangkok, Thailand, and elsewhere in the world. The launch date coincides with the World Soil Day (WSD). The IYS 2015 will promote awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.  date: 5 December 2014  location: New York City, US; Rome, Italy; Bangkok, Thailand (multiple cities)  contact: GSP Secretariat  e-mail:  www:

Second Global Landscapes Forum (GLF): The second GLF will be convened on the sidelines of the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC by the CIGAR Consortium’s Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Government of Peru. The Forum will focus on integrating the landscape approach into the post-2015 climate and development agendas. The programme will include a wide variety of sessions covering topics such as REDD+, climate-smart agriculture, fiscal and trade policy instruments, land restoration and forest economics.  dates: 6-7 December 2014  venue: The Westin Hotel and Convention Center  location: Lima, Peru  www:

Third Forest Legislation Summit: The Global Legislators Organisation (GLOBE International) is organizing the Third Forest Legislation Summit on the sidelines of the 20th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 20). Legislators from over 20 countries are expected to participate in the Summit, which will feature side events on climate legislation, natural capital and the progress achieved in 2014. In conjunction with the Summit, GLOBE is convening ministerial meetings with key countries for legislators.  date: 7 December 2014  location: Lima, Peru  contact: GLOBE International Secretariat  e-mail: www:

International Mountain Day 2014: Organized under the theme “Mountain Farming,” the 2014 International Mountain Day will focus on highlighting the rapid transformation of family farming in mountain regions driven by population growth and economic globalization, among other factors. The Day is meant to provide opportunities to: raise awareness on the importance of mountains to life; highlight opportunities and constraints in mountain development; and build partnerships for positive change in mountains and highlands, globally.  date: 11 December 2014  location: worldwide  contact: Thomas Hofer  e-mail: www:

Third Session of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-3) Plenary: This session’s plenary will review progress made on the adopted IPBES work programme for 2014 – 2018, including the related budget and institutional arrangements for its implementation. In addition, the third session of the IPBES plenary will select the members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) based on the nominations received from governments. The event will be preceded by consultations and a stakeholder day on 10-11 January.  dates: 12-17 January 2015  location: Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany  contact: IPBES Secretariat  e-mail: www:

Stakeholder Day Prior to IPBES-3: A stakeholder day will be held prior to the beginning of the third meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-3).  date: 11 January 2015  location: Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany  contact: IPBES Secretariat  e-mail:  www:

Second meeting of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Ad Hoc Expert Group on the International Arrangement on Forests (AHEG2): The Ad Hoc Expert Group to the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) will hold its second meeting (AHEG2) in order to review the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF). Expected outputs from AHEG2 include recommendations on an IAF beyond 2015 based on inputs from stakeholders and an independent review of the IAF multi-year programme of work. In order to facilitate its work, AHEG2 will consider input on the future of IAF provided by member States and other stakeholders, as long as such inputs are received before 5 December 2014.  dates: 12-16 January 2015  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  phone: +1-212-963-3401   e-mail:  www:

Ninth Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to Study Issues Relating to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine BBNJ: This group will meet to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (BBNJ) is the third of three meetings (April 2014, June 2014 and January 2015) that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) requested be convened. The meetings aim to make recommendations to the UNGA on the scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  dates: 20-23 January 2015  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs  e-mail:  www:

48th Meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Standing Committee: The 48th meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Standing Committee will take place from 26-30 January.  dates: 26-30 January 2015  location: Gland, Vaud, Switzerland  contact: Ramsar Secretariat  phone: +41 22 999 0170  fax: +41 22 999 0169  e-mail:  www:

Expert Group Meeting on an Optional Protocol to UNDRIP: This group will discuss a study of the possibility of an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), focusing on land, territories and resource rights, as well as the right to self-determination, self-government and autonomy. The results of the meeting will be reported to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) at its fourteenth session in May 2015.  dates: 27-29 January 2015  venue: Conference Room 5, North Lawn Building, UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: PFII Secretariat  phone: +1 917 367 5100  fax: +1 917 367 5102  e-mail: www:

INTERLAKEN+10: Governing Forest Landscapes: The Governments of Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland and Ukraine will convene the Country Led Initiative (CLI) in support of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF). The theme for this CLI, which will focus on forest governance, is ‘lessons learnt from ten years of experience and the way forward post-2015’. The meeting is meant to generate recommendations on how to integrate forest governance into the UNFF and the post-2015 development agenda.  dates: 3-6 February 2015  venue: Congress Centre Kursaal  location: Interlaken, Bern, Switzerland  contact: Christoph Duerr  www:

Sustainable Ocean Initiative Capacity-Building Workshop for South America: The workshop will focus on sharing and learning from regional experiences on integrated marine and coastal area management, with the aim of holistically achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets 6 and 11. Participants will also discuss scientific and technical tools to support the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, including the description of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs). The Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Ministry of Environment of Peru and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) are convening the meeting. dates: 23-27 February 2015  location: Lima, Peru  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1 514 288 2220  fax: +1 514 288 6588  e-mail: www:

Major Groups-led Initiative in Support of UNFF: The Major Groups participating in the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF) are convening a workshop on sustainable forest management (SFM) under the theme, ‘Designing the vehicles for securing the means of implementation’. Expected outputs from the meeting are recommendations to be submitted to the eleventh meeting of the UNFF (UNFF11). The workshop is being supported by the Governments of Nepal and Germany in collaboration with the Major Groups Partnership on Forests (MGPoF), the UNFF Secretariat and the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).  dates: 2-6 March 2015  location: Kathmandu, Bagmati, Nepal  contact: Lambert Okrah  e-mail: www:

UNCCD 3rd Scientific Conference: The UNCCD 3rd Scientific Conference will take place from 9-12 March 2015, in Mexico, and will address the theme “Combating desertification, land degradation and drought for poverty reduction and sustainable development – the contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices”. It will be held during the fourth special session of the Committee on Science and Technology (CST S-4) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and is being organized by the UNCCD Secretariat and the Scientific and Traditional Knowledge for Sustainable Development (STK4SD) Consortium.  dates: 9-12 March 2015  location: Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico contact: STK4SD Consortium  e-mail:  www:

IV Mediterranean Forest Week: The Fourth Mediterranean Forest Week is being convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the Government of Spain, FOREST EUROPE and other partners in order to explore the role of Mediterranean forests in the green economy. The Week will bring together stakeholders to explore policy considerations from the Tlemcen Declaration and Strategic Framework on Mediterranean Forests (SFMF), promote resilient forests, consider the integration of other sectors within national forest programmes and develop an overall vision for the future of Mediterranean forests and woodlands.  dates: 17-20 March 2015  venue: Hospital de la Santa Creu  location: Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain  contact: David Solano  e-mail:  www:

Third Global Soil Week: This week will provide a platform for discussions on issues related to soils and land, and facilitate the emergence of new initiatives and strengthen existing ones. The Week will be composed of workshops on topics that have emerged since the 1st Global Soil Week: carbon land management; soils and water; land rehabilitation; cities; land governance; economics of land and land degradation; land degradation neutral world (LDNW); soil and biomass for non-food purposes; and soils and food security. The event is hosted by the Global Soil Forum at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), in partnership with several UN agencies and other partners.  dates: 19-23 April 2015  location: Berlin, Germany  contact: IASS Potsdam  phone: +49-331-28822-374  e-mail: www:

14th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII 14): The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) will follow up on the outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and discuss the post-2015 development agenda. The 14th session will include discussions on youth self-harm and suicide, indigenous issues in the Pacific region, and the possibility of an optional protocol to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Other issues to be addressed include implementation of UNDRIP, and the future work of the PFII.  dates: 20 April - 1 May 2015  venue: UN Headquarters, New York City  location: New York City, US  contact: PFII Secretariat  phone: +1 917 367 5100  fax: +1 917 367 5102  e-mail: www:

2015 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting: This Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting will bring together ministers of the Arctic States and high-level representatives of the indigenous Permanent Participant organizations to set the Council’s objectives for the next two years. The 2015 Ministerial Meeting will mark the conclusion of Canada’s and the beginning of the United States’ chairmanship, which will last from 2015-2017. The April 2015 meeting will be preceded by an event in Ottawa, Canada, on 23 April 2015 to showcase the Council’s accomplishments during Canada’s chairmanship.  dates: 24-25 April 2015  location: Iqaluit, Nunavut, Canada  contact: Arctic Council Secretariat  phone: +47-77-75-01-40  e-mail:  www:

UN Forum on Forests Eleventh Session (UNFF11): The eleventh session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF11) will consider the future of the international arrangement on forests, based on challenges and its effectiveness. The meeting will also review progress in the implementation of the global objectives on forests and the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests. Thematic issues under consideration will include sustainable forest management (SFM) and forest law enforcement as was as cooperation and coordination.  dates: 4-15 May 2015  location: New York City, US  contact: UNFF Secretariat  phone: +1 212 963 3401  e-mail: www:

2015 Global Land Forum: The 2015 Global Land Forum will take place under the theme ‘Land governance for inclusive development, justice and sustainability: time for action.’ The event will bring together practitioners, land users, activists, policy makers and researchers from around the world. Participants will debate, share and plan joint action on people-centered land governance, with the aim of contributing to broader goals of poverty reduction, food security, environmental sustainability and human well-being and dignity, including within the context of the post-2015 development framework. The International Land Coalition is organizing the event together with the Pan African Institute for Consumer Citizenship and Development and others.  dates: 11-17 May 2015  location: Dakar, Kaolack, Senegal  contact: ILC Secretariat  phone: +39-06-5459-2445  e-mail: www:

Ramsar COP 12: The 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP 12) will take place in June 2015, in Punta del Este, Uruguay.  dates: 1-9 June 2015  venue: Conrad Resort and Casino  location: Punta del Este, Maldonado, Uruguay  contact: Ramsar Secretariat  phone: +41-22-999-0170  fax: +41-22-999-0169  e-mail: www:

Fourteenth World Forestry Congress: The 2015 World Forestry Congress, the first to be held in Africa, will come together under the theme, ‘Forests and People – Investing in a sustainable future’. The Congress, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the government of South Africa, will consider how forests can be mainstreamed into global discussions on sustainable development and will facilitate the development of partnerships to address global forestry issues.  dates: 7-11 September 2015  location: Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa  contact: South Africa Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries  e-mail:  www:

UN Summit for Adoption of Post-2015 Development Agenda: The UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda was mandated by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2013 (Resolution 68/6). In consultations on organizational modalities for the Summit, Member States are considering holding the summit on 28-30 September 2015, per a revised draft resolution circulated by UNGA President Sam Kutesa on 30 October 2014.  dates: 28-30 September 2015 [tentative]  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York City, US  contact: Office of the President of the UN General Assembly www:

29th Session of the Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) will convene this meeting in order to bring together forestry experts and decision-makers from the region. The meeting is one of six region-specific meetings held every two years in support of the FAO Regional Forestry Commissions.  dates: 5-9 October 2015  location: TBA  contact: Hivy Ortizchour  e-mail: www:

FOREST EUROPE Extraordinary Ministerial Conference and 7th FOREST EUROPE Ministerial Conference: The Extraordinary Ministerial Conference and the 7th Ministerial Conference of FOREST EUROPE will be held back to back to consider the work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee for a Legally Binding Agreement on Forests in Europe.  dates: 19-23 October 2015  location: Madrid, Spain  www:

Silva2015 and Third European Forest Week: The 72nd joint session of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) Committee on Forests and the Forest Industry (COFFI) and the FAO European Forestry Commission as well as the third European Forest Week (Silva2015) will discuss sustainable forest management (SFM) in Europe and the role of sustainable forest industries in the regional economy.  dates: 2-6 November 2015  location: Switzerland  additional: Engelberg  contact: Paolo Cravero  e-mail:  www:

UNFCCC COP 21: The 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC is expected to take place in December 2015, in Paris, France.  dates: 30 November - 11 December 2015  location: Paris, Ile-De-France, France  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228 815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999  e-mail:  www:

African Forestry and Wildlife Commission - 20th Session: FAO will convene this meeting in order to bring together forestry experts and decision-makers from the region. The meeting is one of six region-specific meetings held every two years in support of the FAO Regional Forestry Commissions.  dates: 1-6 February 2016  location: Tanzania  contact: Foday Bojang  e-mail: www:

Second Meeting of the UN Environment Assembly: The UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) will convene for the second time in 2016. The UNEA of UNEP represents the highest level of governance of international environmental affairs in the UN system. The Rio+20 conference agreed in June 2012 to strengthen and upgrade UNEP through measures including universal membership of its Governing Council and ensuring the active participation of all relevant stakeholders.  dates: 23-27 May 2016  venue: UNEP Headquarters, UN Offices in Nairobi (UNON), Gigiri  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Jiri Hlavacek  phone: (254-20) 7621234  e-mail: www:

2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress meets every four years to bring together leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and indigenous and grass-roots organizations to discuss and decide on solutions to environment and development challenges worldwide. The event will hold a public forum consisting of debates, workshops, dialogues, round-table discussions, training courses, music and exhibitions, as well as a Members’ Assembly that will deliberate on IUCN resolutions and recommendations regarding key conservation issues. dates: 1-10 September 2016  venue: Hawaii Convention Center   location: Honolulu, HI, US  contact: Ewa Magiera, IUCN Media Relations  phone: +41 76 505 33 78  e-mail:  www:

CBD COP 13: The Thirteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD) will be held in Los Cabos, Mexico, in November 2016.  dates: November 2016 [tentative]   location: Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email: www: [REPLACED LINK]

Further information