Human Journey

Hawaiʻi Selected to Host IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016

The IUCN World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest and most important conservation event. Held every four years, it aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development on a global scale. It includes leaders from governments, the public sector, business, UN agencies, conservation and social organizations from around the globe.

In a letter to IUCN, President Barack Obama praised the selection of Hawaiʻi as the location for the IUCN World Conservation Congress saying “The United States would be honored to host the World Conservation Congress for the first time in the over-60 year history of the IUCN.” He also said that “as someone who grew up in Hawaiʻi, I know the warmth and hospitality of the Hawaiian people will make a lasting impression on the delegates to the Congress.”

Hawaiian Monk Seal ( Monachus schauinslandi )_copyright Henry Lydecker
Hawaiian Monk Seal (Monachus schauinslandi) Photo courtesy of Henry Lydecker

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General said, “After a robust evaluation process and careful consideration of the two exceptional proposals received from Hawaiʻi and Turkey, we are extremely pleased to announce Hawaiʻi as the host of the next IUCN World Conservation Congress. I have every confidence that Hawaiʻi, with its outstanding facilities, rich biological diversity, vibrant indigenous culture, ‘Aloha spirit’ and strong commitment to conservation and sustainable development, will provide an outstanding setting for our 2016 Congress.”

Hawaiʻi Governor Neil Abercrombie also expressed his opinion of the selection, stating “We are elated IUCN selected Hawaiʻi as the ideal venue to host its 2016 World Conservation Congress. The conference will allow the Aloha State to highlight its conservation efforts to the rest of the world and demonstrate leadership in addressing global environmental and development challenges.”

Hibiscadelphus giffardianus_CR_copyright David Eickhoff
This species of Hawaiian plant (Hibiscadelphus giffardianus) exists as only nine wild individuals in Hawai’i. it is estimated that its populations have declined due to a decline in native honey-creeper bird species. Photo courtesy of David Eickhoff

The selection of Hawaiʻi is specifically good for threatened species. Hawaiʻi is renowned for its unique and rich biodiversity and is home to 108 threatened native species of animals and 200 threatened plant species represented in the IUCN Red List- far more than any other US state or territory. Hawaiʻi has an enormous assemblage of rare and endemic species of birds, insects, fishes, corals, tropical plants, and molluscs and nearly two-thirds of these species are threatened by invasive species, which continue to be one of the most serious threats to biodiversity conservation, especially on islands.

Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis) VU_copyright Steve Greaves
Nene, the Hawaiian Goose (Branta sandvicensis) Photo courtesy of Steve Greaves

The IUCN World Conservation Congress will be held from September 1-10, 2016 and will provide an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the leadership and commitment of Hawaiʻi and the United States to a just world that values and conserves nature. 

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization made up of more than 1,000 organizations, as well as 10,000 individual scientists and experts working on conservation around the globe. Perhaps we are best known for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which is the global standard for species science and conservation information and the connection to human livelihoods and is celebrating 50 years of conservation action in 2014.

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