Right now, thousands of people are gathering in Honolulu, Hawaii to attend the largest conservation event in the world — the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC).
IUCN World Conservation Congress
IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. A unique organization with government and NGO members, IUCN supports scientific research; manages field projects globally; and brings together governments, civil society, and scientists to develop and implement conservation policy.
Water Giver Statue outside of Hawaii Convention Center which is hosting the IUCN World Conservation Congress. [IISD]
The State of Hawaii is host to this very special meeting, focused on the theme “Planet at the Crossroads.” This is the first time the WCC will be held in the United States.
Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Judy Garber, at interview with Hawaii News Now at IUCN World Conservation Congress. [State Department Photo]
Conservation Success Stories
The fragility of our ecosystems, the state of the climate, and all of the added stressors on our planet make it difficult to keep it in balance – but despite these challenges, progress is being made.
For example, President Obama has permanently protected more than 260 million acres of America’s public lands and waters, more than any other president in history. Protected areas are critical for nature to flourish and thrive.
Master of Ceremony for the U.S. Pavilion, Nichole Allem, and Kalani Quocho, Native Hawaiian Program Specialist, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, NOAA pose post-event at the U.S. Pavilion. [State Department Photo]
Just last week, President Obama announced the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii– the existing Marine National Monument will be expanded by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area to 582,578 square miles. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is now the largest marine protected area in the world and it provides critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species.
Panel on Combating Wildlife Trafficking at U.S. Pavillon at the IUCN World Conservation Congress with (left to right): Christy Goldfuss, the Managing Director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, John Cruden, the Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, Daniel Ashe, the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli. [State Department Photo]
Wildlife trafficking is not only an urgent conservation threat but also a threat to global security, rule of law, and economic development. Traffickers are driving species to the brink of extinction. To combat this critical problem, the United States has taken unprecedented steps to prevent wildlife trafficking through the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. An interesting Fact, in 2015 IUCN marked the 50th anniversary of their best known product: the Red List of Threatened Species. Through The Red List and other publications IUCN raises awareness about the conservation status of species and the importance wildlife.
At the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the United States has been building support for increasing protection for species, such as the pangolin, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Additionally, the United States has been working to protect pollinators and in May 2015, President Obama released the National Strategy for Pollinator Health and a Pollinator Research Action Plan in order to coordinate and expand Federal efforts to protect honeybees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators nationwide. In recent years, monarchs have decreased by 90 percent since peak populations in the mid-90s. Loss of milkweed and prairie habitat in the United States, along with loss of habitat in the overwintering grounds have contributed to the decline of this incredible insect. But through recent work with Canada and Mexico, we’ve seen numbers of this butterfly increase 255 percent in the overwintering habitat region since last year. This is great news but more work is needed to restore the eastern population of monarchs.
We’ve had a lot of great successes throughout this Administration, but there is more work to be done. U.S. leadership will maintain momentum for the UN Sustainable Development Goals at the UN General Assembly in New York in late September. This will be followed by the 17th Conference of the Parties to CITES in South Africa at the end of September.
To watch events that occurred at the U.S. Pavilion at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, visit our YouTube page: bit.do/usawcc.
About the Authors: Victoria Peabody and Georgia Mu are part of the U.S. Pavilion team at IUCN WCC and work on public outreach for the State Department’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.
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