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En Route to Marseille: Looking back on the Regional Conservation Forum 2019 in Rotterdam

5 July 2019

Representing two IUCN statutory regions, bridging East and West during three days of dialogue, 320+ participants discussed the proposed IUCN Programme 2021-2024 and agreed on regional priorities for the coming years. 

An inclusive programme

Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of IUCN called for engaging and constructive discussions on the draft IUCN Programme. “IUCN members provide a crucial regional perspective to make sure our programme is relevant to the whole world”, she reminded. Participants agreed that the programme has to be inclusive and to ensure the involvement of young generations. It should apply new technologies and innovations and have a strong emphasis on communication, education and gender equality.

Coenraad Krijger, Director of IUCN National Committee of the Netherlands concluded by saying that we should embrace stopping biodiversity loss as a joint task, given that nature surpasses borders, and that: “As IUCN we all share one goal – a green, healthy and beautiful planet for all people everywhere and the millions of other beautiful forms of life”. He thanked the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the provincial government of Zuid Holland for their support that made possible for IUCN to convene such a Forum. 

Official opening by Grethel Aguilar


IUCN as leader

The new programme is shaped for and by IUCN. Still, it aims to influence the global agenda and to inspire transformational change. “We need to show a higher ambition level while being realistic when it comes to targets in order to catalyse the profound changes in our society,” said Boris Erg, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The proposed programme is structured around four themes: Healthy Lands and Waters, Healthy Oceans, Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation and Equitable Governance of Natural Resources.

“To enable effective impact of our programme, we, as IUCN, should aim to create the political will needed to position nature on the agenda in the economic world,” stressed Luc Bas, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Europe.  “Economic system has to be twisted, and our society has to agree on more sustainable ways to measure the success- other than profit,” he reminded.

Henk Ovink, First Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands reminded the Forum on the need for urgent action, calling for IUCN to act as a leader. “You discussed the lack of political will… IUCN is able to mobilise civil society and bring about a strong action agenda and the collaboration to hold politicians accountable and to help them to act and withstand together the challenges we face as a society”, he added.

Day 1: High-Level Panel Discussion on a Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework


En route to Marseille

The Regional Conservation Forum in Rotterdam served as a great preparatory step towards the IUCN Congress 2020. It opened a constructive dialogue, reminded the Union on governance rules and procedures, and offered a platform for its Members to share their proposals for Motions. 

Officially closing the Forum, Philippe Lalliot, Ambassador of France to the Kingdom of the Netherlands said that he was very pleased to learn that the event inspired fruitful exchange amongst the participants, reminding everyone that “We are now ready to go from Rotterdam 2019 to Marseille 2020. We look forward to welcome you in France next year to jointly make the IUCN Congress a great success”, he stressed.  

IUCN Congress 2020, world’s leading biodiversity event will take place 11–19 June in Marseille, France, under the theme ‘One nature, one future’, highlighting the need for a healthy nature as a prerequisite for assuring the sustainable future of our planet. The outcomes of the IUCN Congress will inform new global targets to address the escalating biodiversity crisis under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, in October 2020 in Kunming, China.


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More articles by: Carl Königel