- The world is currently facing a species extinction crisis. The 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, launched at the Congress, showed that rates of species extinction are at unparalled levels. As one example, the recently released assessment of mammals showed that more than one in four mammal species are currently threatened with extinction. Effectively managed protected areas were noted as a major part of the solution to this extinction crisis;
- The escalating impacts of climate change on biodiversity and on people was a recurring theme throughout the Congress. Delegates stressing the critical role of protected areas in addressing climate impacts, in particular through maintaining stores of carbon and through protecting and enhancing vital ecosystem services;
- Increasing evidence of the benefits of protected areas was presented to the Congress, including at the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) “Splash Event” and in a range of other forums. As one example, a study of over 120 no take MPAs presented to the Congress demonstrated without question that such areas restore marine species and ecosystems;
- The launch of the 2008 World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) at the Congress noted that the rate of protected area establishment continues to grow. This was also reinforced in the major new protected area publication launched at the Congress: The World’s Protected Areas: Status, Values and Prospects in the 21 Century”. However, these areas face many challenges, including climate change, increasing global demand for agricultural and forest commodities, and the impacts of infrastructure projects, including transportation, mass tourism, and oil, gas and hard rock mining. Congress delegates underlined that for protected areas to better respond to these challenges they must be better managed, better connected, and better financed;
Many activities and events at the Congress noted that there have been positive developments in relation to the involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities with protected areas but that much additional work remains to be done; The adoption of the new IUCN Programme which places biodiversity at the core of the programme and emphasizes the One Programme Concept in delivering results has a number of implications for the future work of IUCN on protected areas;
Overall the Congress was very successful for both protected areas and also for WCPA, with the adoption of the WCPA Mandate, the unopposed re-election of Nik Lopoukhine as WCPA Chair for another 4 years, and a very productive WCPA Members meeting (see below). A number of WCPA Themes and Task Forces also took the opportunity of the WCC to hold meetings of their members who were present.