Sustainability, Biodiversity, Equity, Awareness

    These issues were highlighted during the opening ceremony of the World Conservation Congress held Oct. 4-14 in Barcelona, Spain. Many questions were raised, including: How can the growing needs of populations and expanding markets be fulfilled without further sacrificing nature? How can conservation messages be delivered to broader audiences?

    The event, organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the largest of its kind, and it allows IUCN members - both member states and nongovernmental organizations - to set the conservation agenda for the years ahead. The event, which takes place every four years, aims to improve management of the natural environment for social, human and economic development while its mission is to forge time-bound commitments to collaborative action.

    Swift action to assure sustainability seems more relevant than ever as the world is facing an emergency. "What kind of world do we want?" was a question that reverberated throughout the event. A "fairer, better, richer" world, said IUCN President Valli Moosa while urging participants to "release the world's potential" and move conservation to the top of their agenda.

    Economic growth is not being shared equally. The dichotomy between the "haves" and "have-nots" is getting bigger while vulnerable communities are being marginalized from land, resources and power. "Poverty is not created but imposed," Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus said.

    Addressing social justice while pursuing a dramatic change for a more sustainable future is an enormous challenge and IUCN urges forum participants to work on set the foundation for a new global deal between north and south.

    Attending the conference will be heads of state, delegations from 177 countries, environmental ministers, Noble Prize winners, scientists and philanthropists, IUCN members as well as the private sector representatives. According to the agenda, they will tackle a range of issues, from ways to safeguard biodiversity and respond to climate change to and strategies for delivering sound environmental management in healthier environment and pressing issues such as over-fishing, rising energy demand and food security.

    Discussions will touch upon policy and governance, traditional and indigenous knowledge and solutions, sustainable business models and initiatives endorsing ethical behavior and commitment towards nature conservation.