IUCN Forum highlights European nature conservation messages 14–16 December in Helsinki

Press release 2015-12-11 at 10:35
 
 
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The Regional Conservation Forum for Europe of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) will be held in Helsinki on 14–16 December 2015. The Forum will discuss the state of Europe’s nature, its conservation and other issues. Additionally, it will draw up the Helsinki Message, a collection of the most important messages from the European perspective for the decision-makers of the IUCN state members and organisations and for the IUCN administration.

The Forum brings together about 240 participants from 41 countries in Europe, as well as from North and Central Asia. The participants represent IUCN’s member organisations: states, government agencies  and non-governmental organisations. On the opening day, the speakers include IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng from China, the new Director General Inger Andersen from Denmark, Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx of the European Environment Agency, and the patron of the event, former president of Finland Tarja Halonen.

The European Forum lays the foundations for IUCN’s European action plan for 2017–2020. However, the most important task of the Forum is to prepare for the World Conservation Congress to be held in Hawaii in 2016 and to prepare European views for IUCN’s future global programme for 2017–2020.

At the Forum, one aim is to highlight the sustainable development goals of the UN concerning biodiversity in the work of the IUCN even more visibly than before. These goals include protecting soil ecosystems, halting the loss of biodiversity, sustainable management of forests, preventing desertification, and protecting the oceans and the use of their natural resources.

The Finnish Vice President of IUCN, Marina von Weissenberg, points out that the IUCN has played an important role in recent years in the international climate negotiations, where it has emphasised the importance of ecosystems in adapting to climate change.

“Europe is at a crossroads, and this timely event will give the regional environment community an opportunity to reflect on recent international climate negotiations in Paris, and identify concrete steps to implement the global Sustainable Development Goals,” said Marina von Weissenberg, IUCN Vice President and Councilor for Western Europe. “We are grateful to Finland for hosting this meeting, and look forward to the adoption of the ‘Helsinki Message’ to reiterate the unwavering commitment of the European conservation community,” says von Weissenberg from the Ministry of the Environment.

“IUCN’s comprehensive network of developing countries and representatives of developing countries have brought the voice of the South to the negotiation arena. This has also supported Finland’s long-term work that emphasises the connections between the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. In addition, Finland has cooperated with the IUCN for a long time to highlight strengthening women’s position in international environmental conventions,” says von Weissenberg.

According to Marina von Weissenberg, the Forum will also include discussions on how decision-makers and the general public could make better use of the IUCN’s enormous amount of research material and information resources, and on how to implement the sustainable development goals and the action plan effectively.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature is a network of non-governmental organisations and state members with more than 1,230 members. It promotes nature conservation and the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources. The Finnish members of IUCN are the state of Finland represented by the Ministry of the Environment, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Natur och Miljö, WWF Finland, BirdLife Finland and the Finnish Wildlife Agency.

The IUCN regional forums have been held in various parts of the world during 2015. The European Forum is the first one in the Nordic Countries.

Inquiries:

IUCN Vice President, Marina von Weissenberg, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 2952 50321, marina.weissenberg(at)ymparisto.fi

Requests for interviews with the speakers:

Angelika Pullen, Communications Lead, IUCN European Regional Office, tel. +32 473 947 966, angelika.pullen(at)iucn.org

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