Nature's A-list to Debate A Sustainable Future for the Planet

Gland, Switzerland, 5 June, 2014 (IUCN) – Internationally recognized experts, politicians, CEOs, activists and indigenous leaders will be at the forefront of a series of public debates during the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 taking place this November in Sydney, Australia.

The Congress is a once-in-a-decade event on the world's national parks, marine reserves and other protected areas and the solutions they offer to some of today's biggest development challenges, such as climate change, health and food and water security.

The Congress'' prime time debates, the World Leaders' Dialogues, will gather prominent personalities from all walks of life to tackle the most pressing issues related to protected areas, conservation and sustainable development, and to guide the implementation of practical solutions for a sustainable future.

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba, Australian Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt and UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme Achim Steiner are amongst the speakers leading the debates. They will be joined by:

  • CEO and President of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, Peter Bakker;
  • Renowned marine conservationist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dr Sylvia Earle;
  • Chairperson and CEO of the Global Environment Facility, Naoko Ishii;
  • Social entrepreneur and great-grand son of Nelson Mandela, Luvuyo Mandela,
  • Secretary-General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), John Scanlon and
  • Co-Founder & Co-Chair of The B Team, Founder of the Zeitz Foundation and Director of Kering, Jochen Zeitz.

"We are delighted to announce such a prominent line-up for this landmark event," says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. "Through their personal achievements, these exceptional individuals have strongly influenced others, translating words into concrete actions.

"We hope that their engagement in the debates will inspire more people around the world to take action in our common effort to conserve our planet's most precious places and tackle some of the biggest development challenges we face today."

The Dialogues will explore nature's role in protecting people against disasters, new forms of sustainable financing of protected areas and their value, new approaches to combating the illegal wildlife trade and the often hidden costs of our consumption patterns and the growing appetite for resources.

The IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 will take place in Sydney, Australia from 12-19 November under the theme "Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions".

More participants of the World Leaders Dialogues will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information

Ewa Magiera, IUCN World Parks Congress Media Manager
Tel. +41 22 999 0346; Mob. +41 76 505 33 78, ewa.magiera@iucn.org

Margot Marshall, Media & Public Affairs Director
E: margot.marshall@environment.gov.au

Media registration for the IUCN World Parks Congress: http://worldparkscongress.org/news/media_at_the_congress.html

Additional information about the World Leaders' Dialogues

The World Leaders' Dialogues will be held daily from 13-18 November, from 5-7pm:
13 November: The Future Is Not What It Used To Be — how parks can help build a more resilient future
14 November: Ante Up — money matters and the value of parks
15 November: Stand Up for Your Rights — parks and social equity
16 November: Food for Thought — feeding nine billion within our planetary boundaries
17 November: The Nature of Crime — the extent and impact of illegal wildlife trade
18 November: A Balancing Act — how global appetite for natural resources defines the fate of vulnerable countries

The World Leaders' Dialogues will take place thanks to the generous support from MacArthur Foundation and The Rockefeller Foundation.

For more information about the World Leaders' Dialogues, please visit: http://worldparkscongress.org/programme/world_leaders_dialogue.html

About the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014

Conserving the earth's most valuable natural places and promoting nature's solutions to global challenges is the focus of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 taking place in Sydney, Australia from 12 to 19 November.

Today's 200,000 protected areas, established to conserve nature and the benefits it provides, cover over 14% of land and nearly 3% of the oceans. They are home to magnificent wildlife and unique cultures and allow people to connect with nature for inspiration, education and recreation.

While protecting ecosystems that are essential for life, these areas support human livelihoods and are the foundation for a green economy. Protected areas provide drinking water to many of the world's largest cities, including the Congress host city, Sydney, as well as New York and Beijing. They keep climate change in check by storing vast amounts of carbon, sustain the burgeoning tourism industry and protect communities against disasters. When managed and resourced properly, protected areas make a significant contribution to national and regional economies.

Engaging a wide range of sectors including agriculture, health, forestry and fisheries, the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 aims to find better ways to conserve natural and cultural diversity, involving governments, businesses and citizens and to showcase protected areas as the best investment in our planet's future.

About IUCN

IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN's work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO Members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. www.iucn.org

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