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Barcelona Sets Environmental Crisis Action Agenda

Barcelona sets environment action agenda - IUCN

Barcelona, Spain,14 October, 2008 (IUCN) – While the world struggles with the turmoil of a market crisis, IUCN’s World Conservation Congress defined the way forward in solving the environmental crisis. Participants in the Congress underlined that the cost of biodiversity losses are not only greater than those of the current financial problems, but in many cases, they are irreparable.

“We have made substantial decisions here in Barcelona; we’re showing how saving nature must be an integral part of the solution for any world crisis,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“The clear message coming out of this meeting is that biodiversity underpins the well-being of human societies and their economies. But conservation can only succeed if we attack the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, and action is taken at the same time to reduce the impacts of that loss.”

Biofuels were a major focus as members of the world’s oldest conservation organization called on governments to regulate and manage biofuels to limit their potential impacts on people and nature. A call was also made to develop guidelines and improve standards used when considering biofuels projects.

“The tide is turning in our favour, we have the scientific knowledge and we have the governmental willpower to put the solutions in place,” say IUCN’s new President Ashok Khosla. “IUCN’s new programme means we can face the future with confidence.”

The IUCN Programme 2009–2012 provides the framework for planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating the conservation work undertaken by the Commissions and the Secretariat for members.

“We will use IUCN’s knowledge and networks to influence decision-makers to secure a future for nature and better integrate biodiversity concerns into policies and practices of climate change, energy, development, human security, markets and trade,” adds Julia Marton-Lefèvre.

After a heated debate over IUCN’s involvement with the private sector, IUCN’s members agreed to support carefully thought out engagement with business. Much was also done to promote improvements in governance on the high seas. As an area outside of national jurisdiction, these are often exploited by all and managed by none. Proper management of fisheries also held an important space, with resolutions on tuna fishing and shark-fining among others.

The rights of vulnerable and indigenous communities received high priority at the World Conservation Congress as IUCN’s members called on governments to take into account human rights implications, in all conservation-related activities. Congress saw the beginning of an ethical framework to guide conservation activities, where poverty reduction, rights-based approaches and “Do No Harm” principles can be applied to help redefine our relation with nature.

Meanwhile, aclear message was sent by IUCN to the UN’s Climate Change Summit that will take place in Poland in December. IUCN is demanding more specific goals in line with the Bali Plan of Action – calling for a 50 to 85 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 and keeping rises in temperature below 2°C - and actions on biodiversity, ecosystem services and livelihoods protection.

Congress also endorsed the need to proceed with biodiversity-based climate change mitigation actions such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), as long as it remains just and equitable.

More than 8,000 specialists from the conservation community, governments, NGOs, academia, private sector, women and indigenous groups were gathered in Barcelona to discuss the most pressing issues of our time.The 10-day conference opened Sunday, 5 October, and even during these difficult financial times, it has been the occasion of announcements of substantial investments in conservation funding.

Announcements of millions of dollars dedicated to species conservation made by the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, by the GEF, by the Living Oceans Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation have shown that more and more people understand the need to invest in conservation.

Notes for Editors:

The Barcelona Commitments

Among the high profile commitments that have been made to support IUCN’s mission during the World Conservation Congress:

• The MacArthur Foundation will invest $50 million in climate change mitigation and adaptation;
• The Mohammad Bin ZayedSpecies Conservation Fund will invest Euros 25 million for worldwide biodiversity;
• The Alcoa Foundation announced a $9 million five-year extension of its Sustainability Fellows Programme;
• During this Congress France committed €7 million to renew its support for IUCN’s programme 2009-2012;
• Multiple donors launched Phase Two of the Water and Nature Initiative to improve river basin management;
• With Nokia and WWF, IUCN will continue the social platform network, Connect2Earth, to engage youth;
• WithENERGIA, IUCN will improve women’s access to electricity and reduce dependence on biofuels;
• Francophone governments will better integrate biodiversity issues into their development policy;
• Russia pledged to protect 80 million new hectares;
• Sumatran provinces agreed to stop clearing old-growthforests;
• With Google we launched an interactive map of marine protected areas;
• With National Geographic and the UN Foundation, we established the first long-term streaming system that connects anyone, anywhere,to a coral reef in Belize;

• At this Congress IUCN created the International Association of Wildlife Magazines to coordinate conservation campaigns;

• The Government of Paraguay announced zero net deforestation by 2020.
• Regional heads of state agreed to a summit at Manado, Sulawesi next May to launch the Coral Triangle Initiative to protect the world's richest coral reefs.

ENDS

About IUCN

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.

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