The IUCN World Conservation Congress took place in Marseille, France from 3-10 September 2021. It 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.
With nearly 6,000 registered participants on site and more than 3,500 online participants, the 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.
Resolutions democratically adopted by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Members include a call to protect 80 per cent 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.
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.
The active participation of Indigenous Peoples’ Organisation 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’ organisation Members adopted the Marseille Manifesto, including the commitment to implement the first self-determined IUCN Global Indigenous Agenda.
Over 70 wild relatives of some of the world’s most important crops are threatened with extinction, according to an IUCN co-authored study launched at the Congress. These plants, native to Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, provide genetic resources that are necessary to breed crops world-wide with greater resilience to climate change, pests and diseases, as well as to improve yields.
The paper Extinction risk of Mesoamerican crop wild relatives published in the journal Plants, People, Planet, analysed 224 plants closely related to maize, potato, bean, squash, chilli pepper, vanilla, avocado, husk tomato and cotton crops. The study found that 35 per cent of these wild species are threatened with extinction.
To date, at least 16 crop wild relatives included in this study have been used to breed food crops that are more resilient to the changing climate, extreme weather and other threats.
“These findings have potentially critical implications for livelihoods and food security. It is imperative that conservation and agricultural sectors work together to safeguard Mesoamerica’s crop wild relatives, while supporting rural economies and livelihoods,” said Dr Bárbara Goettsch, Chair of the IUCN SSC Cactus and Succulent Plant Specialist Group and lead author of this Darwin Initiative-funded study.
At the Congress, IUCN and the German development agency GIZ, on behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), announced a new programme to strengthen the resilience of community-based tourism in and around protected and conserved areas world-wide.
The programme, which is funded by BMZ and includes implementing partners such as UNESCO and the WWF, will use tourism as an instrument to contribute to sustainable development in developing and emerging countries.
To pilot the initiative, IUCN will work with two World Heritage sites and five other protected areas in Peru and Vietnam to increase the resilience of the community-based tourism sector to future disruptions.
Experiences gathered in the pilot sites will then inform further action for community-based tourism solutions and the role of community-based tourism in pandemic recovery and prevention in and around protected areas on a global scale.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global crash in international tourism, especially to remote and wild places that rely on tourism revenues to support local livelihoods.
Read the Marseille Manifesto at IUCN Website