Delegates at 2000’s biggest environmental conference pledge to save habitats and species

Two thousand five hundred politicians, NGO representatives and scientists at the eight-day World Conservation Congress proposed measures to halt the extinction of at least 11,000 species and the world’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

Delegates from 143 countries met in Amman, Jordan for the biggest environmental event that the Middle East has ever seen, which was organised by the NGO, World Conservation Union (IUCN) and ended on 11 October, with a bundle of new initiatives and a programme for the NGO to address its main concerns. The forerunner to the event, opened by IUCN patron Queen Noor of Jordan, was a recent report that at least 11,000 species are threatened with extinction (see related story).

Among the initiatives launched were;

  • a US$ 30-million Water and Nature Initiative focusing on restoration, protection and management of ecosystems that provide water and livelihoods to communities, with a strong backing from the Government of the Netherlands (see related story).
  • the Earth Forum creating a new platform for dialogue between the community of environmental institutions on the one hand, and private sector and other major decision makers on the other.
  • IUCN and Jordan agreed to establish a thematic centre on water to specifically address water issues in the Middle East, reaffirming the determination of the Jordanian Government to ease conflict through trans-boundary co-operation in the management of scarce resources.
  • a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ to more effectively provide parliamentarians and legislators with accurate environmental information.
  • an ‘Earth Charter’ to highlight the fundamental significance of a shared charter of environment-related values across regions, cultures and creeds.
  • a network of key world leaders committed to the cause of the environment, which Queen Noor said would “provide a window for substantive dialogue, much like an advisory think tank, to develop even more fully IUCN’s potential as the world’s foremost umbrella organisation of environmental institutions and experts.”

The IUCN also developed its key programme to proceed over the coming years, responding to the recent report which includes;

  • approaches to conservation of marine ecosystems, including species-protective measures such as controlling over-fishing, and reducing the loss of seabirds and turtles to long-line fishing;
  • protection measures for specific ecosystems (such as Mountains, Temperate and Boreal forests (especially in Russia), and for the Arctic and Antarctic;
  • protection measures for individual species, such as tigers, black rhinos, marine turtles, Tibetan antelopes, Dugong, and several bird species;
  • guidelines for the prevention of biodiversity loss caused by invasive alien species;
  • measures to address corruption, especially in the forest sector, by promoting good governance, transparency, democratic processes, human rights and other fundamental components of good environmental stewardship.

“We have the knowledge, technology and human resources to avert the extinction crisis. What is missing is the political commitment to use them and to invest in them in the interest of future generations. No loss of species is acceptable to IUCN – no species should go extinct,” said IUCN Director General Maritta von Bieberstein Koch-Weser.

The Congress considered trans-boundary management of ecologically interconnected spaces as a cornerstone of the environmental agenda – above all for the sustainable management of scarce water resources, river basins, regional seas, underground aquifers and for international species protection programmes. Important examples are the Arctic, the Mediterranean, and major river basins such as the Mekong, the Danube, the Amazon, and the Zambesi.

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