IUCN looks ahead to next four years

04 February 2009 | News story

As the IUCN Council meets for the first time since its election at the World Conservation Congress in October 2008, the President, Commission Chairs and Director General set out their vision for the next four years.

“We only have years, not decades to act,” said IUCN President Ashok Khosla. “IUCN has a key role to play in these coming years. We should not hide behind any unnecessary hurdles, but get our act together now. Everyone – be it staff, council or commission members or any other IUCN constituency – can contribute innovative ideas.”

In line with the One Programme approach adopted by IUCN, the six IUCN Commissions chose to present their work on climate change.

Aroha Te Pareake Mead, Chair of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP), presented her team of field experts gathering climate-related knowledge around the globe, including issues such as communities forced to relocate because of climate change impacts. The knowledge they collect is processed and made available for policy makers. CEESP has also started a YouTube dialogue on the climate change impact on communities.

Nikita Lopoukhine, Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), said the WCPA is focusing its climate-related work on how protected areas can help species adapt to climate change by connecting protected areas and allowing species to migrate. He said protected areas are often important carbon sinks and have an important role to play in mitigating climate change.

Simon Stuart, Chair of the Species Survival Commission (SSC), said the work being done on the IUCN Red List criteria is a vital part of the commission’s climate change work. As more taxonomic groups are being threatened by climate change, the Red List criteria need to be revised to include climate impacts. He added that translocating species because of changing habitats will also be an important area of work.

Piet Wit, Chair of the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM), said much of the commission’s work touches on climate change issues. It has projects on ecosystem restoration and connectivity as well as projects on ecosystem products and services that are heavily impacted by climate change. A series of practical workshops are planned on payments for ecosystem services. CEM is also working on a Red List of Ecosystems, with climate change being one of the major threats to them. This Red List is geared towards policy makers and field workers.

Keith Wheeler, Chair of the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC), said a joint CEC-WCPA meeting will be held. The CEC is working on lifting communications and learning to a higher level. “To create the change we want to achieve we cannot limit ourselves to getting our press releases published in a newspaper,” Wheeler said.

Sheila Abed, Chair of the Commission on Environmental Law (CEL), said the CEL is offering legal help with any of IUCN’s or the Council’s work.

IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre said: “If we can spend our energies in a positive manner, encouraging each part of our network in order to mobilize our collective talents around the delivery of the promise of our mission, our impact can be huge.

“We are truly a unique platform to pass on our messages, guided by science and by our on-the-ground experience. There should not be any major decision-maker who has not heard about us or what we want to accomplish for the good of the entire planet.”