IUCN pays tribute to Nelson Mandela

IUCN joins the world in mourning the passing of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, and celebrating his life.

President Nelson Mandela was a valued friend and supporter of IUCN. In 2003 he served as Patron of the IUCN World Parks Congress that was held in Durban, South Africa.

In his opening address on that occasion, he urged delegates to celebrate one of the most significant conservation achievements of the last century – the inclusion of more than 11.5% of the earth’s land surface in protected areas. He also noted that these precious areas face many threats and urged all involved with protected areas to reach out – beyond their boundaries and constituencies – to engage the wider community.

Mr Mandela was a champion of empowering the world’s youth in addressing global challenges including nature conservation.

“You may very well be a little curious to hear what an old man without a job, office, power or influence, and with his roots far in the past, is going to say about challenges for the future! The future is after all, in the hands of the youth,” said Mr Mandela at the Durban Congress, with his characteristic modesty and humour.

In 2007, IUCN’s governing body, its Council, met with Mr Mandela at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. The Council, led by IUCN’s President at the time, Valli Moosa, presented Mr Mandela with the latest update of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. During that visit Mr Mandela demonstrated his keen mind and interest in the world, by commenting on current issues of the different countries represented by his visitors.

“The light of Nelson Mandela will shine for generations to come,” said IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre. “I believe that throughout the world, across cultures, Mandela’s passing feels like the loss of an inspiring father figure. His strength and dignity will continue to inspire all of us who are working for a just world”.

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