Why IUCN’s World Congress in Hawaii matters

We are following a resolution that encourages governments globally to close their domestic ivory markets.  PHOTO: © IFAW/B. HollwegI am headed this week with an International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) delegation of scientists, policy makers and animal welfare advocates to Honolulu, Hawaii for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress.

Comprised of more than 1,300 Members from over 170 countries, this diverse and knowledgeable group “enables human progress, economic development and nature conservation to take place together.”

Around since 1948, IUCN provides conservation data, assessments and analysis and is a “trusted repository of best practices, tools and international standards.”

Its greatest accomplishments over the years have been:

IUCN’s World Conservation Congress comes together once every four years with several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia.

Since the turn of the century, the meeting has taken place in such disparate host nations as Jeju (2012), Barcelona (2008) Bangkok (2004), and Amman (2000).

As always, we have an agenda to represent animals and animal welfare overall. While conservationists and conservation NGOs are present in droves, we feel we bring a voice for individual animals and their welfare to this meeting, which many argue is not fully represented.

So what are our objectives?

We are closely following a number of resolutions being considered including supporting transferring all eight pangolin species from Appendix II to Appendix I of CITES, as well as a resolution, encouraging governments globally to close their domestic ivory markets.

Hawaii serves as the perfect backdrop for this meeting. Not only because of its majestic natural surroundings, but because earlier this year, Hawaii became one of several states in the U.S. to ban ivory sales in an effort to protect elephants and end the illegal wildlife trade.

We will gather with several of our colleagues and conservation peers, along with government officials, Hawaiian legislators, supporters and celebrities to celebrate this glorious victory during IUCN.

Pangolins, a lesser known species, but one critically in danger of extinction will also get their time in the spotlight as countries around the globe work to secure greater protections for these cute critters.

Our dear friend Jane Goodall will join us for a pangolin reception and our own Jeff Flocken, who serves on the pangolin specialist group at the IUCN, will have the opportunity to share our concerns about the species during the Pangolin Knowledge Café.

I will also have the opportunity to participate in a panel entitled “Conservation, Animal Welfare and Animal Rights: Tensions & Synergies,” a discussion on the relationship between biodiversity and animal welfare.

This is not only a time of celebration, but of education and action. These species rely on us to be their advocates and saviors for a safe future.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
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Dr. Joseph Okori
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
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Executive Vice President
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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