Imagine returning home from a convention such as the World Parks Congress. You have been surrounded by thousands of like-minded individuals for a week straight, listening to inspiring speakers, laughing, crying, and engaging in thought-provoking conversations about global socio-ecological solutions. You return to your 9-5 cubicle and find yourself lecturing co-workers for not recycling their staples and shouting, “Don’t you know how many PPM of CO2 is emitted by taking the elevator to the top floor??” (as you stomp up 37 flights of stairs). – – Okay it isn’t this bad, but you know what I mean right?
The conference high. Commitments are made, hands are shaken and lofty goals are declared. But after the excitement from the World Parks Conference fades away, what will happen? Who will follow through? Will this momentum continue to bring us toward solutions to our social/ecological predicaments? Considering the copious hours of discussion and negotiation surrounding the Kyoto Protocol, it seems as if little action has actually been taken (especially in the US).
However, I am an optimist and I would like to believe that conventions like the WPC are very important to engage conversations, promote cross-cultural understanding, and create movement in the global conservation community.
Let’s check out some products of the congress:
The IUCN Green List of Protected Areas
- A global standard of excellent protected areas awarded to 23 sites (none in the US)
- Countries were encouraged to determine protected areas that prevented further species extinction by addressing the IUCN Red List
- Here are some examples of country commitments (click here to see more):
- China committed to increase its protected areas territory by at least 20% and its forest area by 40 million hectares.
- Gabon committed to protecting 23% of its marine waters.
- Canada committed to protect 600,000 square km from industrial activity to conserve biodiversity.
US and Kiribati Sign Historic Cooperative Arrangement
- Agreeing to support research and conservation actions for 490,000 square nautical miles in the Pacific Remote Islands
- Activities include scientific research, law enforcement, the removal of shipwrecks, conservation of seabirds, and eradication of non-native species.
- Click here for more information about collaborative work on this protected area.
The Durban Accord
- Discusses desired outcomes and related targets that reflect the main themes of the WPC
- Specifically addresses commitments to protect biodiversity through protected areas, secure the rights of indigenous people, and empower youth
- Outlines targets, goals and an implementation plan.
- Click here for a full report on the Durban Accord and the WPC outcomes and recommendations
As you can see, important conversations, negotiations and commitments were made at the World Parks Congress. Hopefully global nations will hold each other socially accountable to follow through with their public commitments. The WPC was important to facilitate understanding and a common vision to align goals and encourage collaboration. I am excited to continue to follow reports that are released after the congress to see the fruit of these inspiring discussions.