Closing Plenary of the World Parks Congress: What is the Focus of Conservation for the Next Decade?

Closing Plenary of the World Parks Congress: What is the Focus of Conservation for the Next Decade?


The closing plenary of the IUCN World Parks Congress was full of inspiring speeches and presentations summarizing the work achieved during the Congress. The closing plenary represents a week-long intense conference and many years preparation. Information presented during this final plenary gives insight into what conservation may look like going forward.

A key part of the IUCN World Parks Congress system was stream designation. To facilitate the many discussions occurring between the 6,000+ delegates, the congress was broken into 12 streams and cross-cutting themes. These represent some of the most important tenets of the conservation movement today. These calls to action for the next decade (until the 2024 IUCN World Parks Congress) will shape conservation for the next decade. Here I’ve listed the key information presented in the closing plenary of each stream, deemed essential for conservation according to Penelope Figgis AO, Director of the Australian Committee for IUCN.


Reaching Conservation Goals

-Urgent need for bold action to prevent loss

-More, better managed and governed Protected Areas

-Implementation of Aichi targets is vital

-Ambitious conservation targets


Responding to Climate Change

-Climate change is a great challenge

-Protected Areas will be affected by climate change

-Protected areas provide natural solutions to climate change adaptation and mitigation

-Polar regions are important areas of focus.


Improving Health and Well-being

-“Conservation and good Protected area management will save more lives and combat more disease than the efforts of the health sector” (Jonathan Patz)


Supporting human Life

-Protected areas are the best investment in ecosystem serifs on which human livelihoods and well-being depend

-New emphasis on Protected Areas as disaster risk mitigation


Reconciling Development challenges

-Good conservation is good development

-A smart country maintains its natural capital

-Protected Areas must be integrated into mainstream planning


Enhancing Diversity and Quality of Governance

-Greater diversity of governance felting cultural richness

-Recognition and expansion of ICCAs

-Value of private protected areas and locally-managed areas

-Innovative partnerships to increase conserved areas


Respecting Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Culture

-Embrace diversity of knowledge skills and capacity

-Recognize rights and responsibilities

-Indigenous governance of sites and territories

-Respect sacred, natural and cultural sites

-Recognize as full partners not “stakeholders”


Inspiring a New Generation

-“Take kids to nature!”

-Direct experience for young people and urban communities

-Mentor and empowering young professionals

-Empower the Youth in non-tokenistic ways


World Heritage

-Keep the outstanding exceptional

-Maintain the integrity of the world heritage process

-Outlook reports to emphasize the good heritage sites and assess management of all sites

-Integrate indigenous perspective and cultural dimensions



-Life on earth is dependent on the oceans

-71% of planet is marine, but under serious threat

-Marine Protected Areas are a ‘beacon of hope’

-High seas are a major priority

-Prioritize Arctic, Antarctic, and Southern Oceans and Sargasso Sea


Capacity Development

-Professionalization of PA managers

-Competency, curricula, knowledge and mentoring

-New partnerships and learning initiative

-Foster and draw on traditional skills and knowledge


New Social Compact

-Effective and Just conservation

-Six different dialogues across streams (engaged dialogues with other streams)

-Landscapes fragmentation is mirrored by social fragmentation

-Need humility, trust and diversity of custodians

-Social and ecological connectivity