Post IUCN World Conservation Congress

Mother Earth (Courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

By Jeff Yamauchi
Ka Lā staff writer

The IUCN World Conservation Congress hosted in Honolulu was a success on many levels. The International 10-day environmental forums, discussions, posters, receptions, field trips, displays, ceremonies, and countless other activities brought awareness and consensus that life on the planet is in dire trouble caused by us. Dr. Sylvia Earle, renowned marine biologist and spokesperson for the marine biota, said it best: “The next ten years will determine the next ten thousand years.”

During the global conservation summit, several landmark decisions were decided at the Hawai‘i Convention Center that included creating a new category of IUCN membership for Indigenous peoples’ organisations which supports and gives a direct access for Indigenous peoples’ rights on the international platform. “Some of the world’s greatest minds and most dedicated professionals met here at the IUCN Congress to decide on the most urgent action needed to ensure the long-term survival of life on Earth and our planet’s ability to sustain us,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. “This IUCN Congress has come at a pivotal time in our planet’s history as we find ourselves at a crossroad, facing challenges of unprecedented magnitude. As a shining example of daring conservation commitments, President Obama signed before the start of the World Conservation Congress the largest protected zone in the United States, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, nearly 140,000 square miles (

There were high level meetings and far reaching resolutions in strengthening conservation throughout the world. Ambitious goals with optimistic time tables were presented, but regardless of the effort needed to resolve our multiple environmental crisis, Mother Nature alone dictates final outcomes on her own schedule. We are indeed at the Crossroads and the future is unknown. After attending the full ten days at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, I’m at least cautiously optimistic that we will take the right course.

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