The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC) 2014 has concluded in Sydney, Australia, with the release of ‘The Promise of Sydney' outcome.
The outcome sets out an agenda for the protection of the earth's natural assets over the next decade, and positions protected areas (PAs) as effective and efficient solutions to some of the world's key development challenges.
20 November 2014: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC) 2014 has concluded in Sydney, Australia, with the release of ‘The Promise of Sydney’ outcome. The outcome sets out an agenda for the protection of the earth’s natural assets over the next decade, and positions protected areas (PAs) as effective and efficient solutions to some of the world’s key development challenges.
The Promise of Sydney outcome comprises four parts: 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 related to PAs. The outcome also outlines a pathway for achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Target to protect at least 17% of land and 10% of oceans by 2020.
The vision document 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 PAs, and the establishment of new marine PAs, 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 key environmental and natural resource challenges through public policy, incentives, tools and safeguards.
Key messages from the Congress’ streams and cross-cutting themes, presented as ‘Innovative Approaches to Transformative Change,’ relate to: reaching conservation goals; responding to climate change; improving health and well-being; supporting human life; reconciling development challenges; enhancing diversity and quality of governance; respecting indigenous and traditional knowledge and culture; inspiring a new generation; world heritage; marine issues; capacity development; and the ‘New Social Compact.’
An online portal titled Panorama, launched during the Congress, allows practitioners to share their success stories on addressing problems related to PAs, with a view to ‘Inspiring Protected Areas Solutions’ (IPAS), around the world.
Action pledges in support of the Promise of Sydney were made by nearly 100 governments, organizations, businesses, groups and individuals globally. They include ones by: Australia, to provide AUS$14 million to conservation; Brazil, to protect 5% of its marine waters; China, to increase its PA coverage by at least 20%; Kiribati and the US, to jointly conserve nearly 490,000 square nautical miles; Madagascar, to triple its marine PAs; the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and Elion Foundation, on a public-private partnership to reduce land degradation and increase restoration of degraded land; and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to mobilize at least US$100 million to support the diversity and quality of governance of PAs.
Describing PAs as “by far the best investment the world can make to address some of today’s biggest development challenges,” Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General, noted that the Congress had “propelled major commitments from leaders across all levels of society to secure the benefits protected areas provide to humanity and ensure a sustainable future.”
The WPC is organized by the IUCN once every decade. WPC 2014, held in Sydney, Australia, from 12-19 November, attracted more than 6,000 registered participants from over 170 countries. A summary of WPC 2014 will be available on the IISD RS website on 22 November. [IUCN Press Release] [IUCN WPC 2014 Website] [Panorama IPAS Website] [IISD RS coverage of the IUCN WPC 2014] [Global Environment Facility (GEF) Press Release]