More than 20 IUCN Member organisations and Commission Members from the UK attended the RCF in Rotterdam last week. Despite the sombre findings of the recent IPBES report and against a background of dire and unprecedented degradation of the natural world, the meeting was relatively upbeat. Maybe urgency creates focus, certainly the need for it. And as others elsewhere turned their backs on the European Union, here all participants embraced the opportunity as a means of collaborating to tackle the enormous task ahead of us. Not just Europe either as this event engaged beyond, to non-EU countries in West Europe and in North and Central Asia – from Greenland to the Kamkchatka Peninsula, from the Arctic to the Mediterranean. Clearly, we need to work together – better.
Inspiration from many speakers but in particular for me the IUCN Acting Director General, Grethel Aguilar, with a message of hope and greater ambition, and an important question for the IUCN family – are you willing to increase the level of risk?
2020 will be a ‘superyear’ for nature conservation. Here in Rotterdam was the opportunity to pave the way to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, in June next year, and influence beyond to the 15th Meeting of the CBD COP in Kunming, China, later in 2020, a critical meeting with the goal of putting in place a post-2020 framework for biodiversity protection.
A new draft IUCN programme for 2021-24 was analysed with an opportunity for all to input through workshop sessions and considerable guidance from Members was gathered for the next iteration of the draft. There was much emphasis on this being a programme for all involved in IUCN, not just a workplan for the Secretariat. It will engage us all and will rely on Member’s further participation in its delivery, as will the implementation of the many Motions to the Members Assembly coming forward for the next Congress, including several from UK Members.
The logistical organisation of the event by the National Committee for the Netherlands was an exemplar of what can be achieved by a National Committee, working closely with the Regional Office teams in Brussels and Belgrade, the programme was managed efficiently, accommodating over 400 delegates, a wide variety of speakers, workshop sessions, side events, field trips and a reception at the Natural History Museum.
National Committees gathered on the first morning for a well-received workshop session organised by the Working Group for National Committee Development. A presentation later in the programme dealt with the progress being made with forming an Interregional Committee which is close to reaching its goal of achieving 50% approval from Members, though less than half of Members contacted had responded to the consultation survey.
For more details on the activities and the RCF programme go to: www.iucn.org/rcf_rotterdam2019
or check out feedback at #IUCNRCFRotterdam
So, onwards towards the World Conservation Congress in Marseille, 11-19 June 2020, for which plans are well underway, and with a new draft programme for us all to get behind. Act soon to prepare your Motions to the Members Assembly, propose your side events and workshop sessions if you wish to lead them, and get fully engaged in the WCC next year. It’s not likely to be in Europe again for a very long time.
Chief Executive, IUCN National Committee UK
Chair, Working Group for National Committee Development Europe, North & Central Asia and IUCN Global Group for National and Regional Committee Development