IUCN WCC Adopts 85 Motions, Hawai’i Commitments; Calls for Action on Oceans, Wildlife Trafficking, Climate Change
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Participants at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) adopted the Hawai'i Commitments, titled ‘Navigating Island Earth,' which outline opportunities to address conservation challenges, including maintaining the health of the world's oceans, tackling wildlife trafficking, addressing species loss and ecosystem declines, building resilience to climate change, and sustaining world food supplies.

The IUCN Members' Assembly adopted 85 Motions, inclusive of over 100 resolutions and recommendations, including to create a membership category for indigenous peoples' organizations.

iucn201611 September 2016: Participants at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) adopted the Hawai’i Commitments, titled ‘Navigating Island Earth,’ which outline opportunities to address conservation challenges, including maintaining the health of the world’s oceans, tackling wildlife trafficking, addressing species loss and ecosystem declines, building resilience to climate change, and sustaining world food supplies. The IUCN Members’ Assembly adopted 85 Motions, inclusive of over 100 resolutions and recommendations, including to create a membership category for indigenous peoples’ organizations.

Over 10,000 participants from government, civil society, indigenous communities, the private sector, academia and other groups attended the WCC, which took place in Honolulu, Hawai’i from 1-10 September. The WCC focused on the theme, ‘Planet at the Crossroads,’ in recognition of the “choices and actions the world needs to make to reverse environmental declines and secure a healthy, livable planet.”

Motions adopted by the Members’ Assembly support, inter alia: protecting primary forests, including intact forest landscapes; banning gillnet fishing; classifying all of IUCN’s categories of protected areas (PAs) as off limits to damaging industrial activities, including agriculture, mining, oil and gas, and infrastructure developments; and identifying critical ecosystems and intact forests to be avoided by the oil palm industry. Members also agreed on an IUCN policy on biodiversity offsets that prioritizes avoiding biodiversity loss and stresses offsets as a measure of last resort.

The Hawai’i Commitments identify the role of connected systems of PAs in preserving terrestrial and ocean biodiversity and supporting livelihoods. The document stresses the need for action against destructive, illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and marine debris, rising temperatures, and other challenges that threaten marine ecosystems and fish populations and jeopardize the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Commitments support the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and call for additional efforts to address ocean warming and acidification and to tackle marine plastic pollution. The Members Assembly set a target for protecting 30% of marine areas by 2030 and supported the need for internationally binding legislation to protect areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

Also on oceans, IUCN and Mission Blue announced 14 ocean “Hope Spots,” areas that need protection or require enhanced conservation action. The nomination process allows anyone from around the world to nominate a marine site for inclusion on the list. There are currently 76 Hope Spots.

On climate change, the Commitments highlight nature-based solutions to climate change, such as the restoration of forests and peatlands, as critical for mitigation and adaptation efforts as well as for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and sustainable livelihoods. The document underscores the role of indigenous peoples and women from local communities in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change and notes that climate change exacerbates invasive alien species (IAS), among other challenges.

On ending wildlife trafficking, the Commitments call for concerted efforts to better protect wildlife populations through strengthened laws and enforcement, behavioral change to reduce demand for wildlife products, and enhanced cooperation at all levels and across entire supply chains. The Commitments recommend addressing local peoples’ needs to ensure the benefits of a legal economy exceed those of an illegal economy. The Members’ Assembly urged all governments to close domestic markets of elephant ivory and called for putting in place measures to promote the sustainable use of the vicuña and eliminate its illegal trade. Another motion called for restricting trade of pangolins to exceptional cases only, noting that over-exploitation, illegal trade and habitat degradation threaten survival of the species.

The Hawai’i Commitments further call for, inter alia: transforming how humans live on Earth, by enhancing sustainable consumption and production (SCP) patterns and recognizing the role of healthy ecosystems in human health and well-being. Delegates affirm the role of political, economic, legal, cultural and technological choices in promoting human well-being and enhancing natural assets, calling for strengthening and enhancing the environmental rule of law. To achieve a ‘Culture of Conservation,’ the Commitments call for, inter alia: linking spirituality, religion, culture and conservation; engaging and empowering youth; and addressing planetary challenges, such as sustaining the global food supply and conserving nature.

On indigenous peoples, the new category aims to strengthen the presence and role of indigenous organizations in IUCN. IUCN Director General Inger Andersen welcomed the decision as “a major step towards achieving the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources,” saying creating a specific place for indigenous peoples in IUCN’s decision-making processes will make “our Union stronger, more inclusive and more democratic.” IUCN Members emphasized the need to respect indigenous peoples’ rights and to ensure their free, prior and informed consent in areas conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities, including in increasing the coverage of MPAs and other Motions adopted at the WCC.

On elections, IUCN members re-elected Zhang Xinsheng as IUCN’s President for 2016-2020. They also elected the Treasurer, Chairs of IUCN’s six Commissions and 28 Regional Councilors for the Africa, Meson and South America, North America and the Caribbean, South and East Asia, West Asia, Oceania, East Europe, North and Central Asia and West Europe regions. The Commissions assess the state of natural resources and provide policy advice and expert knowledge on conservation issues while the Councilors act as IUCN Ambassadors across the eight regions and inform the Council on the priorities of IUCN Members in their regions. [WCC Press Release on Hawai’i Commitments] [WCC Press Release on Motions] [IUCN Press Release on Indigenous Peoples] [IUCN Press Release on Hope Spots] [WCC Press Release on Elections] [WCC Motions Website] [WCC Press Release on Outcomes] [Hawai’i Commitments] [WWF Statement on Wildlife Trafficking Motion] [IISD RS Coverage of the WCC]

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