It’s been an interesting week: following this Congress, searching for access to participate in discussions, learning how to use social media.. I’d compare it to swimming through a messy whirlpool of ideological conservation hopes and dreams. And the breaths of air that I’ve found have mainly come from this Conservation Leadership blogger group I’ve been following… But today, the whirlpool finally spit me out – spit all of us out really – as the World Parks Congress came to a close with some inspiring stuff and the CLTL brown bag event at CSU painted a more complete picture of the Congress, from the history behind IUCN to what really was accomplished.
Reading about the major accomplishments of the Congress was a final breath of fresh air. My personal favorites were the commitments from countries around the world to implement the goals identified throughout the Congress. Bangladesh committed to create their first Marine Protected Area, The Republic of Kiribati and the US agreed to conserve 490,000 square nautical miles in the Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument, and the Elion Foundation and The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification partnered to plant 1.3 billion trees along the historic Silk Road. It is these kinds of commitments that warm the heart and inspire me to believe that progress has been made. Of course, whether these goals are reached has yet to be seen, but the sentiment is still there.
Another refreshing announcement from the Congress was the Green List of Protected Areas, highlighted as Areas with best management practices – such a relief to see positivity and recognition of what’s going right in conversation in comparison to the doom and gloom of extinction statistics and the Red List of Threatened Species.
Overall, I came into this Congress with preconceived ideas about what accomplishments would come out of it and how accessible ideas from the Congress might be. But looking back, it is important to consider the organizations and individuals who have flocked to this event. It is not a meeting of delegates, bent on creating legislation or treaties. It is a gigantic group of passionate, conservation-minded individuals trying to share ideas and gain further understanding of one another’s efforts throughout the world. Perhaps the messages heard at the WPC will influence more concrete decision in the UN climate change conference coming up in a few weeks. But for now, we’ve just witnessed – or tried to witness – a beautiful collaboration of 6,000 conservationists from 170 countries. Who could be disappointed about that!