On September 3-11, 2021, The IUCN World Conservation Congress – the world’s largest and most inclusive environmental decision-making forum – held its meeting in Marseille, France, with an address by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron.
APEFA Rwanda was one of the delegates from Rwanda represented by its Executive Director, Mr. Oscar Nzabonimpa.
With nearly 6,000 registered participants on site and more than 3,500 online participants, the hybrid event brought together leaders from government, civil society, indigenous, faith and spiritual communities, the private sector, and academia, to collectively decide on actions to address the most pressing conservation and sustainable development challenges. Over 25,000 members of the general public also visited the Exhibition and the Espaces Generations Nature.
The IUCN Congress focused on three main themes: the post-2020 biodiversity conservation framework, to be adopted by the parties to the UN Biodiversity Convention; the role of nature in the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic; and the need to transform the global financial system and direct investments into projects that benefit nature.
As the first hybrid in-person and virtual environmental event since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the IUCN Congress aimed to enable broad participation from around the world while safeguarding the health of participants.
The Congress brought together the global nature conservation community, including top international experts in conservation science, policy and practice. Held every four years, the Congress allows IUCN’s 1,400 Member organizations to democratically determine the most pressing issues in nature conservation and actions to address them.
The Congress urged governments to implement a nature-based recovery from the pandemic, investing at least 10% of global recovery funds in nature, and adopted a series of resolutions and commitments to urgently address the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises.
“The IUCN Congress acts as a unique, inclusive global environmental parliament, where governments, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples all have a voice. The decisions taken here in Marseille will drive action to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises in the crucial decade to come. Collectively, IUCN’s Members are sending a powerful message to Glasgow and Kunming: the time for fundamental change is now,” said Dr Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General.
Resolutions democratically adopted by IUCN Members include a call to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025, to halt deep-sea mining across the oceans, and for the global community to adopt an ambitious One Health approach. The active participation of Indigenous Peoples’ Organization Members in IUCN’s democratic process led to a focus on indigenous peoples’ rights and role in conservation in many resolutions.
In total, IUCN’s more than 1,500 Members adopted 148 resolutions and recommendations, 39 through a vote at the IUCN Congress in Marseille, and 109 through online voting prior to the event. Among the decisions taken in Marseille was a resolution for IUCN to create a Climate Crisis Commission, to complement the Union’s existing six Commissions.
In the closing session of the IUCN Congress, the Union’s state, non-governmental and Indigenous Peoples’ organization Members adopted the Marseille Manifesto, including the commitment to implement the first self-determined IUCN Global Indigenous Agenda.
Commitments announced by state and non-state actors at the IUCN Congress include:
- France’s commitment to achieve 30% of protected areas nationally by 2022, and 5% of its Mediterranean maritime area under strong protection by 2027;
- Over 30 subnational governments, cities, partner organizations and IUCN agreed to expand universal access to high-quality green spaces and to enhance urban biodiversity in 100 cities, representing around 100 million citizens by 2025, and assessing their impact according to the Urban Biodiversity Index.
Under the leadership of Western Indian Ocean states, IUCN and partners committed to support the Great Blue Wall Initiative, the first regionally connected network to develop a regenerative blue economy to the benefit of 70 million people, while conserving and restoring marine and coastal biodiversity.
Members also approved a new programme for IUCN for the next four years and elected new IUCN leadership, including the Union’s new President, Razan Al Mubarak.