1 Sep 2016

Planet at the crossroads

By Shaun Hurrell

The IUCN World Conservation Congress starts today in Hawai’i. Eleven of the world’s leading environmental organisations pledge to use new “common language” to map and save important nature on Earth.

E. O. Wilson’s seminal book “The Diversity of Life” opens with an incredibly rich description of the influx of plants and animals on an island following a volcanic eruption. ‘The father of biodiversity’ captivates the reader with his accounts of floating seeds, parachuting spiders, and the speciation of life on islands like Hawai’i. Wilson’s work has inspired many conservationists to protect the world’s biodiversity, for nature’s sake, and for what it provides to people.

Similarly today, the Hawai’ian island of Honolulu is welcoming the influx of thousands of such conservationists, as it hosts the IUCN World Conservation Congress, running until 10 September.

With the theme ‘Planet at the crossroads’, the Congress will tackle the current clash of immediate human needs with their long-term impacts on the planet’s capacity to support life, by bringing together great minds to find sustainable solutions.

The Congress also brings decision-maker and media attention to islands, highlighting their vulnerability and the urgency of addressing climate change.

One of the major events at the Congress will be the launch of the Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) Partnership, which will bring to life a new “gold standard” for mapping and conserving vital places for life on earth. On 3 September, eleven of the world’s leading conservation organisations will announce the ambitious new partnership to identify, map, monitor and conserve KBAs – places which include vital habitats for threatened species – with US$15 million committed over the next five years.

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BirdLife’s 13,000 Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas, identified over the past four decades, will feed into the new common currency for site conservation, and BirdLife is a major player in the Partnership.

BirdLife will also be launching a new report Making a Difference which, through a wealth of summary statistics, infographics and a selection of recent success stories, shows the impact of the BirdLife Partnership for nature conservation.

We will be bringing the world’s attention to the plight of African Vultures and pushing for resolutions to prevent wildlife poisoning, as well as numerous other themed events such as tackling the problem of invasive alien species on islands, something very familiar something that is familiar to anyone that knows Hawai’i.

Keep your eyes and ears on Hawai’i, this week and next, for an eruption of conservation progress.






For more information: www.iucnworldconservationcongress.org