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2014 World Parks Congress makes a promise to the future of natural areas

Every ten years the IUCN World Parks Congress gathers together individuals and organisations from protected areas around the globe and this month saw the 2014 World Parks Congress take place in Sydney. The Congress was attended by 6000 people from over 170 countries, including representatives from some of Eurosite’s members.

During the Congress, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 2014 Protected Planet Report was launched. The Report assess progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11, which aims to conserve 17% of land and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The 2014 Report shows that although progress has been made in the percentage of protected area coverage, targets concerning ecological representativeness and effective management have not been met.

The Congress culminated in the release of ‘The Promise of Sydney’. A departure from the usual declarations and action plans developed at previous IUCN World Parks Congress meetings, ‘The Promise of Sydney’ is intended to represent a promise to future generations and the prospect of a promising future for nature and people.

‘The Promise’ sets out a roadmap to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. It includes 12 ‘Innovative Approaches’ documents, which outline innovation steps for transforming decision-making, practice, policy, capacity and financing. The documents are divided into key themes, such as responding to climate change, human health and well-being, and indigenous knowledge and culture. ‘The Promise’ also includes a Vision statement, a collection of case studies that showcase the solutions protected areas can offer to the world’s problems, and promises from countries, organisations and individuals around the world.

“Protected areas are by far the best investment the world can make to address some of today’s biggest development challenges,” said Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “The Congress has propelled major commitments from leaders across all levels of society to secure the benefits protected areas provide to humanity and ensure a sustainable future.”

You can view ‘The Promise of Sydney’ in the 2014 World Parks Congress website.