Time to act on our World Conservation Congress commitments

Back from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Korea, I am worried if we do not start to “walk our talk” as my colleagues say, we will be in real danger of losing the last remaining opportunities to slow and ideally stop the loss of many of the world’s animal species.

A number of steps agreed to at the congress in Korea may bring real improvement for the welfare of wildlife. One of the outstanding examples may be that, finally, animal welfare has been recognised as a necessary component when developing wildlife conservation and management solutions.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare now shall be invited into a collaborative partnership of all stakeholders to develop real ecologically sustainable concepts to overcome several major issues threatening many wildlife species and populations. For example, the so-called bushmeat crisis in Africa.

Other positive commitments at the congress, like shutting down bear farms in Vietnam and Korea, give me hope, despite the lack of similar commitment from China. The delegates from China were not able to accept more than committing to investigate how bear farms fuel poaching of wild bears and the illegal trade in bear products – but they agreed to that at least, which is progress.

The fight against the poaching of elephants in Africa is set to become a much higher priority.

Threatened dolphins and sharks will be better protected and threats to wildlife habitats shall be decreased.

This is all good, while not good enough yet; in fact there remains a tremendous amount to be done.

Good animal welfare standards, which are not yet accepted as of any conservation concept, must be integrated into all relevant mainstream policies and management concepts.

All bear farms (as any other wildlife farms causing unacceptable cruelty) must be closed.

Ivory markets need to be shut as long as elephants are being killed for their ivory. Generally, governments must put the “precautionary approach” into action and manage human impact on nature by primary consideration for the well-being of individual animals, their wild populations and the ecosystems they live in.

That way we may succeed to halt the loss of biodiversity by progressing towards a more “peaceful co-existence between nature and humanity “, the vision expressed by the Minister for the Environment of Korea in his opening speech at the congress.  

We need to convert the good commitments from the congress into action.

We have no time to waste, but must collectively “walk that talk” or we will lose out on a tremendous opportunity.  


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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Beth Allgood, Country Director, United States
Country Director, United States
Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation Program
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
Regional Director, Asia
Jason Bell, Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Vice President for Conservation and Animal Welfare
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation
Sonja Van Tichelen, Vice President of International Operations
Vice President of International Operations
Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
Director, EU Office
Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime