The International Union for Conservation of Nature ( IUCN)’s latest Congress, the very first one after the COVID19 that broke out on our already sick planet was held in the southern French city of Marseille on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.
The timing, 3-11 September 2021, was the most crucial. The two key conferences, one on Convention on Bio-Diversity and the second on Paris Climate Agreement are to be held in Kunming-China in October and Glasgow-UK in November this year. Both biodiversity and climate change, are now considered as two more pandemics running concurrently with COVID19. While inaugurating the IUCN, French President Macron said, ‘ There is no vaccine for our sick planet’.
Indeed, IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Bio-diversity and Ecosystem Services, just before the pandemic, in 2019, has warned that 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) in August this year has warned that Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and some trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame.
IUCN acts as a distinct and inclusive global environmental parliament, where governments, NGOs and Indigenous Peoples all have a voice for the conservation of nature.
Though the decisions taken in Marseille are not binding, they are intended to drive action under word citizens agenda to tackle the biodiversity and climate crises in the crucial decade- called by the United Nations, as Decade of Action. Collectively, IUCN’s Members sent a powerful message to Glasgow and Kunming: the time for fundamental change is now.
What are the key decisions made by more than 1,500 Members?
The decisions taken need to be understood in the context of three main themes that IUCN prioritized before the Congress:
- the post-2020 biodiversity conservation framework, to be adopted by the parties to the UN Biodiversity Convention;
- the role of nature in the global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- the need to transform the global financial system and direct investments into projects that benefit nature.
IUCN adopted 148 resolutions ( ! ) and recommendations, 39 through a vote at the IUCN Congress in Marseille, and 109 through online voting prior to the event. Among the decisions taken in Marseille was a resolution for IUCN to create a Climate Crisis Commission, to complement the Union’s existing six Commissions.
The take-away decision, however, was: The governments were urged to implement a nature-based recovery from the pandemic, investing at least 10% of global recovery funds in nature, and adopted a series of resolutions and commitments to urgently address the interlinked climate and biodiversity crises.
Commitments announced by state and non-state actors at the IUCN Congress include:
- France’s commitment to achieving 30% of protected areas nationally by 2022, and 5% of its Mediterranean maritime area under strong protection by 2027;
- Over 30 subnational governments, cities, partner organisations and IUCN agreed to expand universal access to high-quality green spaces and to enhance urban biodiversity in 100 cities, representing around 100 million citizens by 2025, and assessing their impact according to the Urban Biodiversity Index;
- Under the leadership of Western Indian Ocean states, IUCN and partners committed to supporting the Great Blue Wall Initiative, the first regionally connected network to develop a regenerative blue economy to the benefit of 70 million people, while conserving and restoring marine and coastal biodiversity.
Students and the faculty under smart Campus Cloud Network ( SCCN) would have their brains and cups full of innovations to implement the above decision when relevant. 2021 would mark a year to make Universities and Higher Educational Institutes the actors under IUCN.