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Key debates decided for IUCN’s congress in Hawaii

Key decisions on nature conservation and sustainable development are expected at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress 2016 in September, after the motions to be debated and voted upon were published.

Hawaii, the 50th and most recent state of the United States of America, is hosting the IUCN's World Conservation Congress 2016 in September
Hawaii, the 50th and most recent state of the United States of America, is hosting the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2016 in September

Held every four years, the 2016 IUCN Congress will be the largest gathering of environmental policy makers since the Paris Climate Agreement and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and presents a major opportunity to start putting these deals into action.

This year’s IUCN Congress motions are indicative of current trends and priorities for conservation, sustainability and the environment. The six key motions primarily identified for debate in Hawai‘i deal with protected areasnatural capitalbiodiversity offsetsocean governanceoil palm expansion and ecotourism. Over 8,000 delegates representing governments, business, the scientific community, NGOs and Indigenous peoples from more than 160 countries will discuss the issues outlined in the motions.

The IUCN Congress will decide and trigger action on a total of around a hundred motions, on issues ranging from closing domestic markets for ivory trade to protecting wild bats from culling programmes, phasing out the use of lead in ammunition or strengthening the role of Indigenous peoples in combating illegal wildlife trade.

An IUCN policy on natural capital, which deals with the value of ‘ecosystem services’ such as water, food, climate mitigation and natural flood defences, is an expected outcome, as is an IUCN policy on biodiversity offsets – actions that compensate for biodiversity losses caused by development projects. The draft decision on ocean governance calls for a legally binding instrument for the conservation of marine biological diversity in the high seas, which account for two-thirds of the world’s oceans.

IUCN Congresses have led the way on thinking in conservation since 1948, flagging climate change as an issue of concern as early as 1960, for instance. Past IUCN Congress motions and the resulting resolutions have been key to developing landmark treaties such as the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB).

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