World Parks Congress underway in Sydney

on 13 Nov 2014 

The World Parks Congress 2014, organised by the IUCN, is now underway in Sydney.  The event was last run 10 years ago in Durban South Africa, under the patronage of Nelson Mandela.  The theme of the Congress is "Parks, People and Planet -inspiring solutions", and aims to find solutions to today's most pressing environmental issues and to inspire the younger generation to take up the challenge and reconnect with natural world.


This year's event runs for a week, and is being attended by around 5000 people from over 160 countries. Bush Heritage has a delegation here, being led by Gerard, with 11 people attending for various periods.  Connie is our "face" to the congress, running our stall in the exhibition space with support from others during the day.  We have been lucky to secure a prime spot that catches the attention of most passers-by.  A number of our partners are also actively involved, including Wunambal Gaambera, the Cape York mobs, other aboriginal groups across the north,Trust for Nature and Tasmanian Lands Conservancy.  There's also several of our key funders involved, including Pew Charitable Trust and Full Circle.  


An inspiring Opening Ceremony launched the congress last night, starting with a warm welcome by the local traditional owners, the Burramatta-gal of the Eora nation, and including a speech by the great grandson of Nelson Mandela handing over the mantle to representatives of the youth of Australia.  A particularly heart-warming speech was given by the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, talking about how Gabon's marine and terrestrial protected area system has been grown and strengthened in recent years, with value to society as well as biodiversity.  It was inspiring to hear a national leader speak so passionately about people, parks & planet.  This was followed today by equally heart-warming speeches by the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr. and the heads of other pacific island nations.  They are continuing to create vast marine protected areas as a way to protect their way of life and help secure the planet's oceans and seas.  They are speaking plainly and with urgency about the future of their people and trying to raise awareness about the need for all nations to commit to acting on climate change.  This was well illustrated yesterday by the arrival into Sydney Harbour of the Vaka canoes of the Mua voyage, a delegation from the Pacific Islands in traditional canoes, having made the 2-month long voyage navigating by the stars.  


A particularly pleasing aspect of the congress is the strong recognition of First People's. The congress recognises the vital role they have played in the past, and now more importantly, will play in the future, in protecting biodiversity.


Bush Heritage staff are presenting several electronic-posters.  We'll post details about these as the Congress progresses.  Some of the key Congress sessions are being streamed - you can see details here - 


The Congress was preceded by a one-day meeting of the Australian Conservation Coaches Network, which is a group of people training in coaching project teams in using the Open Standards.  Along with some of the Bush Heritage coaches there were people attending from some of our Cape York partners, NAILSMA, Greening Australia, Trust for Nature, and others from as far away as Brazil and Cambodia.   The focus of the day was to discuss how coaches can help groups move their projects beyond the planning stage, to progress through implementation and around the adaptive management cycle.  It was a great opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other,