IUCN World Conservation Congress

I’m leaving the World Conservation Congress in Jeju with thousands of like minded colleagues. It has been 10 days of intense learning and collaborating on the election of IUCN officers and regional councilors and on resolutions for the IUCN secretariat to implement.

We made some significant progress at the congress. We were asked to document the restoration of 1 million hectares in El Salvador which essentially means that half of El Salvador will be rehabilitated. This is exciting because it may create a new example to inspire many other countries in the region that suffer from loss of vegetation, flooding, mudslides and other indicators of degradation. I was astounded when the country delegate from El Salvador sought me out especially to tell me they wanted EEMP to do for them what we have been doing in China and Rwanda.

Since 1948, the IUCN has been working and many members who had contributed to IUCN’s mission for many years were honored. The awards were one of the most moving parts of the Forum and Assembly for me. We also contributed to the awards by making a short video to highlight the accomplishments of the inaugural winner of the Luc Hoffmann award, Germano Woehl Jr.

You can see this contribution by downloading the link below.https://www.yousendit.com/download/TEhXb2VQYWIwMEZvZE1UQw

In a surprise, Dr. Zhang Xinsheng from China was elected the new President of IUCN. The election was too close to call and was finally decided not by the total votes but by a mathematical equation that weighted government votes slightly higher than NGO votes. Apparently a significant number of the government delegates hope that Dr. Zhang will be able to bring some new Chinese financial support to the UNION. This could help the 4 million Swiss franc loss in traditional unrestricted core funding.

Kosima and I were able to stay about half the time with a Korean family that lived on “Lonely Mountain Pass Road” which didn’t endear us to taxi drivers but saved us hours each day in commuting across the island. I’m writing this at the Jeju Island airport and will try to add some pictures when I get back to Beijing. The Bonzai trees being created by our host were really interesting as was the experimental forest we visited nearby.

It will be 4 years until the next congress. It is a trying time and hopefully the Union can continue to play and important role in conservation worldwide and specifically take the lead in ecosystem restoration.

We are boarding now so I’ll stop. let us know if you find these posts useful.

John D. Liu

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