A land of beauty and opportunity

23 July 2010 | Article

On the opening day of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia, IUCN's Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre recalls the importance of World Heritage for conservation and the strong links between IUCN and Brazil.

This city is stunning, and it’s rather appropriately a cultural World Heritage Site. And that’s exactly what we’re here for, the 2010 meeting of the World Heritage Committee. This is where new sites are considered for inclusion as cultural, natural or even mixed cultural/natural sites.

IUCN is the body that assesses natural sites for the World Heritage Committee – that’s something we’re really proud to be involved in. Also IUCN raises the alarm about natural sites that are in danger.

Our job is to protect and maintain the standard set out by the Committee that natural sites must contain superlative natural phenomena or be areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance.

That’s just one of many official criteria that make a natural World Heritage site tick all the boxes. But for me I’d say there’s just one criterion – these places simply take your breath away.

This is nature in all its glory, it’s wonderful. And World Heritage status is wonderful too.

It offers protection for biodiversity and cash investment in areas that need it.

It’s also my great pleasure to be in Brazil’s capital city, which is celebrating its 60 anniversary, to witness the birth of a new IUCN office here in Brasilia.

Brazil is a vital, vivid and vibrant nation which is taking its rightful place at the centre of the world stage. As home to a plethora of natural assets Brazil is a place that IUCN cannot afford to be anything less than totally engaged with.