The first World Leaders' Conservation Forum (WLCF) served as a platform for leaders from government, business, civil society and academia to discuss and devise innovative nature-based solutions to global environmental, economic and social challenges. The Forum underscored the important role of nature conservation in peace building and sustainable development, and called for “bold leadership” at both the global and local levels to halt biodiversity loss.
The Forum, which convened from 7-9 July 2013, in Jeju, the Republic of Korea, met under the theme ‘Nature: A path to peace and coexistence' and brought together more than 700 participants from 52 countries. It aimed to inspire people globally to take concrete actions leading to co-existence between humans and nature, resilient ecosystems and sustainable development.
During the event, participants met in sessions addressing, inter alia: how to reduce threats to biodiversity; nature conservation for sustainable development; facilitating transboundary conservation and peace building; harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife; and resilient ecosystems and sustainable development. Participants had the opportunity to visit one World Heritage site, two Ramsar Sites and nearby local communities.
In a keynote address, author and journalist Alan Weisman warned that “we were playing a game of Russian roulette with biodiversity.” International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Director General Inger Andersen said that human progress and nature conservation are complementary and must thrive together, not consume each other. She cited credible and accessible political, economic and technological approaches that can promote human welfare and support or enhance the planet's natural assets. The Republic of Korea Environment Minister Yoon Seongkyu said that for too long nature conservation has been considered a constraint to economic development.
The dialogues concluded that: healthy ecosystems are critical for sustainability, meaning that biodiversity must be better valued and mainstreamed into societies and economies, through, for example, a new global economic framework that values nature; a trend is growing to establish transboundary conservation areas, with experts suggesting a scientific approach could involve more countries and independent organizations and, ultimately, create a broader sense of ownership and conservation achievement; numerous complexities must be considered in order to live in harmonious co-existence with nature, including differing cultural perspectives to consumption patterns; and more partnerships and shared visions for nature conservation could inspire action.
Participants were challenged to reach out to their networks and garner support for nature conservation in advance of the forthcoming IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held in Hawaii, US, from 1-10 September 2016.
The Forum, which was organized by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea, the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and IUCN, is expected to be a bi-annual event. It is an outcome of the 2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress also held in Jeju, which committed to, inter alia: invigorating conservation efforts; inspiring people across all generations, geographies and cultures; and investing in nature's solutions.