DR GRETHEL AGUILAR
Former Director General,
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
As we enter a new decade, safeguarding a healthy planet and restoring a harmonious relationship with nature has never been more urgent. By continuing to destroy biodiversity we are undermining our wellbeing, and our very survival. By razing forests, farming soils beyond their limits, polluting the seas and destroying reefs we undermine livelihoods and jeopardise sources of food, water and other essential resources.
But the decade that lies ahead provides a chance to turn things around.
CONSERVATION ACTION WORKS
We know that conservation action works. It is effective in bringing species back from the brink of extinction, as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shows. It can reduce the risk of landslides in productive mountainous areas or the impact of sea surges in vulnerable coastal zones. Conservation helps restore forests, sequester carbon dioxide and improve soil health. It also helps unite communities around a common cause, such as water provision, and empowers women to contribute to the family economy by pursuing sustainable livelihoods.
NATURE HOLDS THE KEY
For “nature-based solutions” to work far and wide, and for biodiversity to be valued and protected by humanity, the global community must fully commit to conservation action. If we get biodiversity right, we have a higher chance of putting the world on the road to sustainability in many ways: climate change, but also global health, development, peace, and food security. In other words, I would argue that nature and its biodiversity are key to achieving most, if not all, of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations back in 2015. By taking care of nature, we take care of ourselves.
A JUST WORLD THAT CONSERVES AND VALUES NATURE
IUCN is a democratic union that brings together the world’s most influential conservation organisations and top experts to protect nature and to accelerate the transition to sustainable development for the whole of humanity. The Union drives action to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature, and to ensure that natural resources are used equitably and sustainably.
Our strength lies in the trusted scientific guidance, tools, and policy recommendations we provide for players worldwide. Crucially, IUCN also uses its convening power to create spaces for local, national and regional voices from diverse sectors – including government and business representatives, conservation experts and custodians, indigenous peoples, civil society organisations, scientists, academics, young professionals and leaders, and many others – to collectively find solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.
THE IUCN WORLD CONSERVATION CONGRESS
In January 2021, at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, leaders, thinkers and practitioners from around the world will come together to learn, share, debate, and seek ways to overcome the environmental challenges that we face. The Congress can set the path for the next decade to delivering concrete outcomes that benefit those most in need and the ecosystems on which they depend. The decisions made there must set us on a trajectory towards recovery and sustainability.
This is no small feat – but we cannot afford to fail.
More than ever, we need a healthy planet that can sustain heathy people.