Over 9000 participants representing 1300 States and NGO Members gathered in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA for the IUCN World Conservation Congress from 1-10 September 2016, to debate and act on key environmental issues affecting our ‘Planet Earth’ today which include conserving the nature and oceans, climate change, protection of wildlife and the role of all stakeholders and private investment in nature conservation.
The Congress is seen as IUCN’s response to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in which it proposes to advance nature-based climate change adaptation and mitigation solutions, and to take greater account of the ocean in the climate regime, and with the theme ‘Planet at the Crossroad.’
It was opened on 1 September by the President of the IUCN, Mr. Zhang Xinsheng, where he declared that “We have the right people here, together, in this inspiring place, with the knowledge, tools and influence to make a transformative difference, to take these bold steps to move the planet from tipping point, to turning point.”
It is really about action now. We know the problem and the solutions, and the President urged the Congress to concentrate more on actions to achieving goals and targets.
The US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, happily convey to the Congress President Obama’s most recent addition to US national monument system – the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument of Hawaii, the largest protected area in the world, and an UNESCO World Heritage site.
Ocean conservation is one of the key themes IUCN Congress is to decide upon, including motions on increasing marine protected area coverage for effective marine biodiversity conservation and on advancing conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, or the high seas.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for MEIDECC, Hon. Sioasi Sovaleni led Tonga’s delegation to the Congress, and in the afternoon on the same day he addressed the meeting by showcasing the initiatives that the Government of Tonga has put in place in addressing climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience, renewable energy and energy efficiency, ocean protection, marine plastics, wildlife protection, biodiversity loss, and the economic and social impacts of transitioning, or not transitioning, to more sustainable development paths.
‘We highly note, the adverse impacts of Climate Change have due consequences on our integrity and the livelihood of our biological diversity. Therefore, we commit to fulfill our obligations under both Conventions (UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)) to ensure sustainability in the livelihood of our biological diversity and resilience to climate change’, the Hon Minister stated in his country statement.
The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister also attended the 10th Pacific Island Forum Leaders Meeting (PICL) together with Tonga’s Prime Minister Hon ‘Akilisi Pohiva on 31 August 2016.
In close collaboration with the IUCN, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and Blue Planet Foundation of the US, they have proudly sponsored the participation of the other delegates to the Congress, which include: CEO for MEIDECC – Mr Paula P. Ma’u, Mrs. ‘Ofa Kaisamy – Principal Legal Officer for Climate Change, Mr. ‘Ofa Sefana – Energy Specialist, Mr. Siua Latu – Principal Environment Officer, and Ms. Ana Fekau – Integrated Island Biodiversity Specialist.
Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change and Communication