What are the international issues addressed during the World Conservation Congress (IUCN)?


This Friday, September 3rd, begins the World Conservation Congress, organized by the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUCN). Initially planned in June 2020, it has been delayed and finally maintained this year, despite the fears on the pandemic. It will take place until September 11th, in Marseille, France.

A worldwide scale event

The World Conservation Congress is organized every four years. It allows 1400 organizations members of the IUCN, among which States, Civile society, and native people, to ascertain in a democratic way, the most pressing matters in terms of nature preservation, but also the actions to undertake to answer these matters. The Members’ Assembly, the higher ranked decision-taking organ of the IUCN, which approves especially the ICUN Program for the next 4 years, talks about strategic questions and adopts motions defining the general politic of IUCN.

This unique event is a good opportunity to gather several thousand of decision makers, around these actual modern problematics that are biodiversity preservation, development, and economic and social well-being of human populations. The IUCN contributed to communicating perspectives of its members in terms of politics to the highest level of international diplomacy, especially thanks to its observer status of the United Nations general Assembly. IUCN members have passed more than 1300 resolutions and recommendations since 1948.

Thanks to these, the Union demonstrated its influence on preservation politic at all levels, helped establish the preservation international agenda and contributed to structure environmental rights, by giving birth to several international conventions and environmental treaties.

The Marseille’s congress should lead to 128 concrete worldwide recommendations, 109 have already been voted by states and NGOs. The remaining recommendations will be voted in Marseille and will contribute to defining the next objectives in favor of biodiversity preservation on the horizon of 2030 that will be established during the Biodiversity COP15. This rendezvous is also strongly expected to impulse a strong dynamic before the Glasgow climate conference that will happen in November 2021.

Some figures :

1.300 IUCN member organizations, coming from 160 countries

15.000 commission experts

20.000 expected persons...

Recommendations in line with Surfrider Foundation Europe orientations 

Several themes linked to Ocean protection will be in the agenda of debates and voted during the IUCN worldwide general assembly, and are especially important as they are taking part in influencing coming nature and marine environment preservation strategies:

- strengthen Oceans’ protection

- stop or reduce major pressure on biodiversity such as Ocean plastic pollution, soils’ artificialization, sand removal, pesticides.

- reinforce protected space protection, just like the importance of environmental impact studies and financing dedicated to biodiversity.

Six recommendations, about to be debated and submitted to vote, align with Surfrider Foundation Europe’s orientations and work carried out to protect Ocean from pollution, and consequently health and well-being of humans. They are related to erosion; pesticides; soils’ artificialization; marine space organization and Ocean plastic pollution. 

First, some recommendations in the Congress’ agenda, are related to coastal erosion, coastline organization and soils artificialization. Marine and coastal sand resources management, fighting against soils’ degradation and artificialization, marine space organization and biodiversity preservation will be in questions. Coastlines are quickly evolution under the influence of natural phenomenon such as erosion or marine submersion. The impact and consequences of these phenomenon are strongly worsened by climate change, water level rising, extreme meteorological events, Oceans’ warming, all indirect consequences of human activity. Littoralization phenomenon, becoming more and more important, also as effects on coastlines management with direct consequences of human activity on coastlines. 

Then, regarding marine litter, a recommendation that will be submitted to vote, aims at ending the worldwide crise of plastic pollution in marine environmental within 2030. Plastic pollution is one of the most important threats for Ocean’s health: marine mammals’ chocking, Ocean asphyxia, multiplication of harmful microplastic and nano plastics, and danger to humans. Only a reduction at the root will allow to fight durably and efficiently this catastrophe.

Finally, a recommendation that will be submitted to vote, aims at generalizing alternative technics and practices to synthetic pesticide use. It reminds not only the harmful impact of pesticides on biodiversity, water, and soils qualities, and health, but also the fact that a lot of synthetic pesticides have a known toxicity on biodiversity and build-up in marine ecosystems. Agricultural rejections, cities’ rejections, incidents with used water networks, water treatment plants overflowing, etc., are many pollution sources directly threatening coastlines water qualities. It is also a matter of healthy risk, as sea and coastlines users are more than ever exposed to bacteriological, chemical, and biological pollution.

Finally, a recommendation promotes the implementation of solutions based on nature in the Mediterranean region in favor of water management, climate attenuation and adaptation and for urban organization in the Mediterranean region. Surfrider Europe chose to develop its action in the Mediterranean region – through its chapter based in Marseille, to bring solutions and handle the numerous stakes it is facing. Indeed, the region constitutes one of the 34 sensitive points in terms of worldwide biodiversity but is facing a huge pressure linked to human activities resulting in an increase of urban population, maritime traffic, tourism, and industrialization development. The Mediterranean is also one of the most vulnerable regions in the world to climate change. Also, it is important that specific actions are adopted to contribute to Mediterranean biodiversity preservation.

General congress program available here

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