Daily report for 5 October 2000

2nd IUCN World Conservation Congress

Congress participants met in parallel thematic sessions throughout the day addressing: ecosystem management in mountains, watersheds and river basins; environmental health of island, coastal and marine ecosystems; environment and security - a new strategic role for IUCN; forest ecospaces, biodiversity and environmental security; ecospaces and a global culture for sustainability; and strategies for averting the world water crisis. In the evening, delegates convened in an informal members' session to review the programme for 2001-2004 and the budget for 1996-2000.


David Sheppard, Head of IUCN Programme on Protected Areas, opened the session, reviewing the day's objectives regarding ecosystem management and bioregional planning: exchanging experience, tools and guidelines; and building new alliances. The keynote address focused on defining ecosystem management with particular attention to issues of scale and cross-sectoral cooperation. The bioregional approach, showcased during the sessions, encompasses core areas, buffer zones and corridors as fundamental components.

Mountain ecosystems - opportunities and challenges: Panelists presented cases from the Andes, Himalayas and the Alps. Speakers highlighted the need to link upland mountain conservation with lowland water supply, noting that it is not practical to isolate highland conservation from lowland needs.

River basins - flow of life or shared problems?: Panelists presented cases from the Okavango Delta, the Baltic countries and the Amazon region. Corridor networks emerged as a key conservation management approach.

Transboundary resource management and conservation - a tool for regional cooperation, confidence building and peace keeping efforts: The session consisted of presentations from meso-America, Southern Africa, Australia and the Arctic. Despite the geographical diversity, key elements identified for transboundary, or trans-frontier, projects included: international cooperation; a regional landscape focus, linking smaller projects; long-term commitment; institutional complexity and stability; diverse approaches; and partnerships. These elements also emerged as critical to the general approach of ecosystem, or landscape level, management.


The IUCN Strategic Plan: This session was facilitated by Lloyd Gardner, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), Jamaica. A speaker presented the key themes of the Plan, including habitat conservation, protection from land-based activities, sustainable fisheries and effective governance. Another speaker highlighted IUCN's focus on coral reefs and noted over 50 "dead zones" throughout the world, due to land-based pollution sources.

The UNEP Global Programme of Action: A speaker suggested greater cooperation with IUCN to, inter alia, promote an ecosystem approach and develop indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of action. Another suggested ways to mobilize private sector funding and highlighted the link between marine conservation, poverty alleviation and food security and human health. In a discussion, participants addressed implementation, including sewage, waste management and actions to curb persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in Russia.

Networking for the 21st century: Panelists presented an Internet "vertical portal" project for IUCN that would allow users to search sorted and edited information on specific areas of marine conservation.

The Red Sea Marine Peace Park: Participants heard a presentation on this park created on the Aqaba coast to protect the local marine environment, provide scientific baseline data and develop a monitoring regime. They further discussed, inter alia, threats faced by the Gulf of Aqaba, integrated management systems, the need for education and public awareness and the socioeconomic effects of marine degradation.

Protecting essential habitats: A panelist overviewed a Latin American-Caribbean habitat protection initiative, which delineates bio-geographic units and prioritizes action based on levels of threat.

Another addressed, inter alia: threats faced by marine habitats; emerging issues for marine protected areas (MPAs); building systems for MPAs to curtail the challenges faced by isolated or fragmented areas such as islands; integrated coastal management; community involvement in MPAs; effectively managing MPAs; and fisheries management.

Promoting sustainable fisheries: Participants heard a presentation on an ecosystem approach to managing the Australian prawn fishery. Panelists identified initiatives to curb the negative effects of poor management, overfishing, and extensive by-catch.


Can the human and economic costs of war and disaster be reduced through greater investment in environmental conservation and resource management?: This session, chaired by Mark Halle, Coordinator of the IUCN Task Force on Environment and Security, examined the linkages between conservation, conflict and vulnerability to disaster. Panelists presented: an overview of the academic debate; impacts of Indonesian deforestation; sources and impacts of conflict in Rwanda; roots of insecurity in Northwestern Pakistan; Hurricane Mitch and disaster risk mitigation in Central America; NGOs' roles; and legal tools for conservation in times of conflict.

How is environmental security relevant to IUCN's work programme?: Jeff McNeely, Senior Scientist for IUCN, stressed the need for conservation programme design to incorporate planning for contingencies. Ambassador Mohamed Sahnoun, Chair of the IUCN Task Force on Environment and Security, emphasized the importance of international mechanisms for holding decision makers accountable for human rights violations and environmental destruction during war. A participant called on IUCN to establish an environment and security project fund.

A way forward?: Participants noted that, while many IUCN activities incorporate security aspects, further integration is needed. Participants recommended that IUCN should: host an international conference on environment and security; expand the Task Force's mandate to include research on private sector issues, the role of the military and the role of environmental conditions in disaster vulnerability; and combine academic knowledge with field experience of IUCN members for use by policymakers.


Livelihood security and forests: After introductions by David Cassells, Chair of IUCN's Forest Conservation Advisory Group, this panel examined issues related to: non-timber forest products (NTFP), in particular wild food; contested boundaries between local communities and state agencies and methods of resolving conflict; and addressing poverty through the incentive approach by linking income potential to forest conservation. Participants discussed how NTFP could be reflected in the national economy and instances when community control could detract from conservation goals.

'Natural' disasters?: The panel discussed: root causes of vulnerability, including the population explosion, deforestation and war; the increasing frequency and intensity of forest fires and the attendant human health, ecological and economic ramifications; and the need to undertake socioeconomic analyses of human caused forest fires in Russia. Participants touched upon the lack of empirical data on how forests mitigate effects of floods and hurricanes, post-disaster restoration potential and the acute need for public forest fire prevention campaigns.

Linking policy and practice: Panelists considered how: non-forest sector policies such as structural adjustment impact forests; community participation has become a central feature of forestry management; expanding international and national legal mechanisms governing forests impact local communities; and ForestPAC provides a framework to translate global and regional forest policy into local action through partnerships. During a discussion, participants examined who makes laws and the need to build forest management capacity in local communities.

Move to action: For the final session, panelists and participants revisited the day's main themes and considered possible actions for IUCN. Themes included: the uneven value attributed to natural resources by developed and developing countries; global forest regimes and sovereignty over forests; and the implications of shifting forest management from state to local control. Participants suggested IUCN could enhance the cross-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach and assist the World Bank to mainstream environment policy.


Sustainable fishing: is selectivity the answer?: Eduardo Fernandez, Species Survival Commission, chaired this session. On selective fishing and sustainability, a panelist noted a demonstrated increase in global awareness of sustainable fisheries management and highlighted that the key issue in the new century would be by-catch. Participants provided accounts on: the impact of global fisheries on sharks; fisheries management in Japan; and the effect of fishing on seabird populations.

Sustainable use and ethics in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD): On this issue, a speaker noted the increasing shift from equity to efficiency within the framework of the CBD.

Who are the CBD stakeholders?: One panelist identified indigenous people, local communities, governments and UN agencies as stakeholders, and stressed the need for an interdisciplinary approach. Focusing on equity and sustainability, another panelist noted that the lack of property rights, appropriation of indigenous knowledge, loss of biodiversity and attempts to attribute a value to natural resources all contribute to inequity within the context of biodiversity. A participant stated that sustainable development within the CBD framework should be based on current local and national realities.


Latest on the water front: This panel, chaired by Delmar Blasco, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention, addressed whether global water policy is integrated to a common target and identified crucial steps for making progress. Panelists presented: the outcomes of the 2nd World Water Forum; the Global Water Partnership's (GWP) framework for action; the World Commission on Dams' impact assessment and resultant guidelines; the Ramsar Convention guidelines on integrated river basin management; and IUCN's Water Crisis Strategy.

How much water do wetlands and rivers need?: Sir Martin Holdgate, former IUCN Director General, chaired this session. Keynote speakers addressed: technical methods for river flow management to meet, inter alia, environmental, recreational and energy needs; and competing national and regional water resource demands and ecosystem pressures within the Okavango Delta. A panel discussed: legislation to maintain water flows in freshwater ecosystems; the need for technical capacity to assess ecosystem water flow; accurately pricing water; indirect human dependence on water systems; and integrated management plans involving all stakeholders. Participants noted the session's question is political, economic and social in nature.

Developing IUCN's freshwater work: Khalid Mohtadullah, GWP Executive Secretary, chaired this session. On water issues in the Middle East, a speaker described political issues arising from sharing the scarce resource among nations and the growing stress from immigration and increased demand for industrialization and agriculture. He projected that the decline in water quality will prove a greater problem than limited quantity. During the panel discussion, participants suggested decentralizing water management and noted that the issue of water quality could provide an avenue for integrating environmental aspects into centralized water management agencies. Participants also drew attention to: the relationship between living standards and water demand; the impact of climate change on rainfall; loss of water through leaky infrastructure; managing water holistically; and accurately valuing water. Regarding sustainable management of the Panama Canal Catchment, presenters highlighted its integrated management system which involves stakeholders and encompasses conservation and poverty alleviation. In the subsequent panel discussion, participants stressed the importance of, inter alia: involving stakeholders; tailoring management to the region; political will; and scientific research for sound decisions.


Programme: Richard Sandbrook, Chair of the IUCN Council's Programme Committee, overviewed IUCN's new streamlined programme framework. He announced that a database is under development to classify programmes and help set funding priorities, and that a draft business plan is currently under the Council's consideration.

Budget: The 1996-2000 budget was presented, reflecting an average growth rate of 13% for project activities with no increase for core funding. The financial plan is allocated to achieve key results.


The 18th Sitting of the World Conservation Congress will convene at 9:00am in the Cultural Palace, Sport City, to hear reports on IUCN's activities, IUCN Commissions, the independent external review of IUCN and IUCN finances for 1997-1999. The Congress will continue in afternoon and evening sessions to consider the report on membership development, membership dues, the programme and budget for 2001-2004, commission mandates and draft resolutions and recommendations.

Further information


National governments
Non-state coalitions