The September 2021 World Conservation Congress organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature was the first major environmental event to be held in a hybrid format since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The main outcome document of the Congress was the Marseille Manifesto.
The Congress also resulted in the adoption of 28 resolutions on conservation and sustainable development issues.
The September 2021 IUCN World Conservation Congress was the first major environmental event to be held in a hybrid format, with both in-person and virtual participation, with around 6,000 participants on site in Marseille, France, and 3,500 more people attending online.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin reports that the Congress highlighted dual existential crises for the planet – climate change and biodiversity collapse – and drew significant political attention, as it took place ahead of key global meetings on these two issues: the Glasgow Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 26) and the UN Biodiversity Conference (Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP 15).
The main outcome document of the Congress was the Marseille Manifesto, which highlights that humanity has reached a tipping point and the window of opportunity to respond to the interlinked climate and biodiversity emergencies is narrowing.
The Congress also resulted in the adoption of 28 resolutions on conservation and sustainable development issues. Resolutions that attracted considerable discussion and/or attention included:
- on climate change, establishing a Climate Change Commission, as well as promoting integrated solutions on its linkages with biodiversity;
- on biodiversity, including contributions to the upcoming post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF);
- on rights, recognizing and supporting the rights and roles of Indigenous Peoples’ and local communities’ (IPLCs) in conservation, as well as protecting environmental defenders;
- on the ocean, protecting deep-ocean ecosystems through a moratorium on seabed mining and taking acting for biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction;
- on health, promoting the One Health approach and addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss to protect human, animal, and environmental health, and prevent pandemics; and
- renunciation of the Doctrine of Discovery to rediscover care for Mother Earth.
The lengthiest contact group in IUCN’s history took place on the topic of synthetic biology in relation to nature conservation. The discussion resulted in a resolution but many felt that the text fails to bridge differing views, according to ENB.
Another highlight came in the form of important contributions from Indigenous Peoples, youth, local authorities, and the private sector, including during four Summits organized on the first day of the Congress (World Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nature; Global Youth Summit; IUCN Local Action Summit; and IUCN CEO Summit.)
The Congress took place from 3-10 September 2021. It included a four-day IUCN Forum, providing a hub of public debate covering the seven Congress themes (landscapes; freshwater; oceans; climate change; rights and governance; economic and financial systems; and knowledge, innovation, and technology) and the outcomes of the One Planet Summit.
The Congress also included a three-day session of the Members’ Assembly, the IUCN’s highest decision-making body. The Assembly took decisions on pressing conservation and sustainable development issues, and elected a new IUCN president, Razan Al Mubarak, United Arab Emirates (UAE), the first woman from the Arab world to hold this role.
The ENB writes that the Congress’ deliberations are “expected to significantly contribute to important multilateral environmental meetings in the coming months, and shape the future of sustainability on the planet.” [ENB meeting coverage]