2021 IUCN Congress Recap
By Diana Garlytska
2021 CoalitionWILD Steering Committee Co-Chair
The IUCN World Conservation Congress (IUCN Congress) has served as a milestone on the journey that started for me at IUCN One Nature One Future Global Youth Summit (GYS) earlier this year. I was a part of the Youth Representatives team of 10 young people from different parts of the world that had one main thing in common: passion for conservation work. The 10 of us actively participated in various GYS sessions that took place over the two weeks and analyzed the inter-generational dialogues, trainings, and workshops that took place in order to crystalize the main themes that were of the highest importance to young people globally.
Hours of work followed the GYS as we shaped the information into 10 themed policy briefs. For example, I was responsible for the brief on “Creative Responses to Climate Change”. Together, these briefs have formed the grounds for GYS Outcome Statement. Attending the WCC in Marseille, France created the opportunity to present this work to a global audience and ensure that opinions, hopes and expectations of young conservationists around the globe are heard and acted upon by high level decision makers.
The IUCN Congress sets the nature conservation agenda for the next decade and beyond. The 2021 Congress had a strong focus on the biodiversity and climate crisis, highlighted the rights and roles of indigenous peoples in conservation, and looked at what was necessary to address post-COVID recovery. The IUCN Congress saw 9,200 participants in person and online made of leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges, and a long list of key commitments emerged from the Congress in the form of the Marseille Mainfesto.
My week at the IUCN Congress flew by quickly and the program was intense. On the ground, the Indigenous Peoples’ Summit, the Global Youth Summit, the CEO Summit and the Local Action Summit all took place, gathering interest groups to map out goals, strategies and standards to be presented for acknowledgement and action by the IUCN. The Forum provided a hub of public debate covering the seven Congress themes and the outcomes of the One Planet Summit presented by the host country, France. Over the course of four days, the Forum saw the launch of the IUCN Academy, close to 200 e-posters and the Conservation Action Cafés, generating new ideas and partnerships. Exhibition stands and events and the Nature Generation Areas raised awareness and provided first-hand experience of nature to the general public.
The IUCN Congress also holds a Members’ Assembly, where over 1,500 Members debate and vote on 39 motions. One that we (CoalitionWILD) are particularly excited about is the passing of Motion 101 by IUCN Members, which is to make the protection of at least half of Earth’s lands and seas the official recommendation to the United Nations and other international governing bodies.
I personally find this a unique opportunity for a young professional, like myself, to learn from peers and elders, network and contribute to a greater effort to protect nature and biodiversity. My two personal highlights were on the first and the last days of the Congress. On day 1, I presented the GYS Outcome Statement overview and, on the final day of the Congress, newly elected IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak met with a group of us youth representatives. I find the connection between the two events and the invested interest of the new IUCN President in youth engagement makes me hopeful about youth inclusion in conservation decision making going forward.
Steering Committee Co-Chair
Diana Garlytska, Head of Science and Research Division is a young expert who over 7 years of her career in academia has taught in more than a dozen of countries across Europe and Asia. In 2013 from business analytics at HQ of a multi national corporation in Leipzig, Germany, Diana Garlytska transitioned to teaching and research work work in Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. Here she has used every opportunity to enhance her knowledge in the field of environmental economics and develop her skills in teaching, project mandated, proposal writing, research, creative writing, and storytelling. Diana has written 4 workbooks for BA level students and created her author courses on ‘Sustainable Business Development’. Diana Garlytska is a Steering Committee Co-Chair and has been on steering committee since 2019, as well as IUCN CEC member since 2018. Diana is happiest when enjoying art in any form.