This week is an important one for EDN and for the international environmental community because it marks the start of what’s considered the world’s largest conservation event, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC). This year’s Congress, which is held every four years, is being hosted in the United States for the first time in the beautiful city of Honolulu, Hawaii. It kicked off officially and in style yesterday with a speech from President Obama during the opening ceremony and an evening reception filled with ono (delicious in Hawaiian) local food and music by the local but internationally known musician, Jack Johnson. Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, also helped ensured that the WCC had momentum behind it from the start by massively expanding Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument earlier this week. Following the expansion, it is now the largest marine protected area in the world. The stage is now set for a successful Congress to begin today and EDN is excited to be a part of it.
What makes meetings like the WCC so important is their ability to bring together thousands of diverse stakeholders (around 6,000 participants are expected to participate this year) within a diverse forum to exchange information, share their perspectives, and democratically shape the global conservation agenda. IUCN Congresses aren’t just exercises in talking either, they have led to several international environmental agreements, such the Convention on Trade and Endangered Species (CITES), widely considered one of the most effective environmental treaties.