With the participation of indigenous people, the World Conservation Congress begins in Marseille

Afp and Ap

La Jornada newspaper
Saturday, September 4, 2021, p. 22

Marseilles. The World Conservation Congress opened yesterday in this French city with grim weather predictions from experts, the full participation of indigenous people for the first time in more than 50 years, and mounting pressure from environmental organizations.

We ask too much of the planet. We are taking, taking, and we are not taking care of our resources, our biodiversity, declared Bruno Oberle, director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in a debate with indigenous organizations.

There is a virtuous circle. If there is a collective mobilization, the acceleration effects will arrive, French President Emmanuel Macron launched as a message of hope, when opening the meeting.

Macron announced in parallel the convening of a summit on the oceans in France in late 2021 or early 2022.

The Marseille Congress brings together thousands of experts in the conservation of biodiversity until the 10th, although much of the debates are held online, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For decades, the IUCN, founded in 1948, organizer of the event, has worked to catalog the planet’s natural wealth and guide the environmental policy of more than a hundred countries that comprise it. Its main tool is the Red List of threatened species, with nine alert levels, which will be updated this Saturday.

The IUCN has cataloged just over 137,000 species of animals and plants to date (its target is a minimum of 160,000), of which 28 percent are threatened with extinction. Nature suffers the fastest decline in human history, experts from the United Nations (UN) warned in 2019.

The role of climate change in this dramatic mutation of biodiversity is the subject of debate within the IUCN, which must approve if it creates a commission on the subject. The Marseille Congress works in a peculiar way, through a joint assembly of States and non-governmental organizations.

A month ago, scientists who are experts in climate change warned that global warming is worse and faster than feared. The world could reach the threshold of +1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030 10 years earlier than expected, explained experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The union, which brings together more than 1,400 members, announced in 2016 the inclusion of indigenous groups, which this year will be able to present motions and vote.

Becoming a member (of IUCN) was not just a matter of inclusion, but of self-government, explained Aroha Mead, representative of New Zealand, in the debate with indigenous organizations.

The goal of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin in Marseille is a motion to protect 80 percent of the vast Amazon basin by 2025.

Activists mobilize

For their part, a hundred environmental activists marched through the streets of Marseille to keep up the pressure on their partners within the IUCN: the governments.

The lockdown measures and travel restrictions ordered by the pandemic caused huge, but very brief, improvements in air quality and a drop in pollution, the UN said.