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Ecosytem Insider September 2021

Dear IUCN CEM Member, We are pleased to bring you the 3rd Issue of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) Newsletter for 2021

*Note: Due to the World Conservation Congress there are many events and topics which were not referred to during this issue.

This year’s World Conservation Congress, which took place from September 3th to 11th in Marseille began with an in-person Opening Ceremony, where Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado opened up with an inspiring speech and stunning images about the importance of the Amazon rainforest and the people who inhabit it. He reminded us that Nature and humans are not two different components, but rather alike parts of one same organism, where we depend on each other for mutual survival and harmony. Harrison Ford’s emotive speech highlighted the struggle of waking up every day to the news of continuous floods, fires, plagues and still telling his children that “everything will be alright”. “It’s ok to feel frustration, anxiety, grief, but don’t run away from it. Cry out for justice, justice for mother nature and social justice for indigenous people and all the inhabitants of the planet.” He closed the ceremony with a reminder that “we must act if we want things to happen, and we must do it together, so let’s get to work.” These last words stayed in the air during the 8 days of congress where more than 10,000 people, in-person and online gathered to find practical and out-of-the-box solutions to halt the biggest ecological crisis in our time.

Actor Harrison Ford called for action and union on the climate crisis during the Opening Ceremony in Marseille, France.

Watch the full Opening Ceremony here.

In a quite “not-yet-post-pandemic” time, this year’s Congress shed a special spotlight on how several key changes must be addressed in order to accelerate actions towards avoiding future pandemics, including investment in Nature-based Solutions, the creation of more green jobs through taxation and seizing this opportunity to do things differently by valuing nature as if it really matters, by rethinking and rebuilding our system and putting nature and people at the top of our priorities. It is undeniable that environmental degradation, the climate crisis and biodiversity loss have a major impact on human health worldwide and how, only through the collaboration of science and traditional knowledge, is will be possible to find real solutions to the current crisis. That is why this year, for the first time in history, indigenous people had a vote as decision-makers regarding the protection of territories they have inhabited for centuries such as the Amazon rainforest. Additionally, the Indigenous and Local Communities (IPLC’s) launched the Global Indigenous Agenda for the Governance of Indigenous Lands, Territories, Waters, Coastal Seas and Natural Resources which includes Securing recognition and respect for collective Indigenous rights and governance of lands, territories, waters, coastal seas and natural resources, promoting and implementing Indigenous solutions to conservation of biodiversity, promoting and implement Indigenous solutions to the climate crisis, influencing post COVID-19 recovery and food security agendas to improve the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples, increasing and strengthening Indigenous leadership in decision-making processes and access to resources related climate and nature conservation.

Furthermore, there was more space for young and local communities to speak and share their ideas than during any previous year, with events such as the Global Youth Summit and the first ever World Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nature which took place during the first days of the Congress, reinforcing the idea of how, only through integrating multidisciplinary approaches and diverse sectors including governments, local communities, science, NGO’s and the private and financial sectors will it be possible to accurately target the ecological crisis and achieve the goals set during the Congress.

During the following days at the Congress, hundreds of events took place, ranging from workshops to panels, webinars, art exhibitions, film screenings, and e-posters where CEM participated in over 30 in-person and online events. During the first day of public events, Chair Angela Andrade and several CEM members led the Ecosystem approach as the cornerstone of our future webinar, where they highlighted the most recent achievements of several CEM technical groups. David Keith, from the Red List of Ecosystems group described how the recently published IUCN Global Ecosystem Typology and the Red List of Ecosystem Database can serve as important tools for assessing and monitoring ecosystems worldwide in order to achieve direct impacts ecosystem restoration. Emmanuelle Cohen focused on how Nature-based solutions serve as a bridge between scientific information and practical, social-environmental goals and highlighting the 50+ events where CEM has participated including training, educating, supervising and supporting projects and organizations, leading them towards more efficient Nature-based solutions. Cara Nelson approached restoration and rewilding as a critical conservation priority to reverse ecosystem degradation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, and how CEM has provided specific principles and standards of practice for ecosystem restoration to ensure highest and most effective restoration, as “we can have good intentions, but without standards and principles we can make mistakes which can be counterproductive in the end, causing more damage than benefits”. Liette Vasseur reflected on how an inclusive approach is fundamental for improving conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem health for human wellbeing, and how only by working together with local communities, indigenous, youth, women and men in cities, etc. is it possible to address effective Nature-based Solutions. Last but not least, Carlos Zambrana, addressed human health issues and their direct relation to ecosystem degradation worldwide, and how ecosystem restoration can serve as an efficient mitigator for pandemics and other health risks.

Several CEM members shared their work during the Ecosystem approach as the cornerstone of our future webinar.

In the end, what was clear from all CEM members was that it is key to find ways to integrate these diverse approaches to work together and understand the connections between rewilding, restoration, human health and others in order to find the most effective solutions for both ecosystems and humanity to thrive hand in hand.

The Nature-based Solutions stand served as the stage for several events led by the Young Professional Network, currently led by Deepu Sivadas and who joined by Diego Portugal showcased the results of the CEM survey on young professionals’ perceptions on Nature-based Solutions and discussed their current and future involvement in NbS activities, particularly on the Global Standard for NbS. During this event, a number of panelists including Angela Andrade, Manuel Pulgar, Julia Beathe and Daniela Rizzi spoke about how the integration of Young Professionals is key to achieving a higher impact and developing Nature-based Solutions, as well as proposals on how to create a route map for increasing the engagement of YP in NbS.

Young Professional Network leader, Deepu Sivadas and Chair Angela Andrade at the presentation of the results of the CEM survey on young professionals’ perceptions on Nature-based Solutions.

Likewise, Angela Andrade, Dr. James Hallett, from the Society for Ecological Restoration, Radhika Murti, Director of the Global Ecosystem Management Programme and Marcos Valderrabano, Programme Officer of the Red List of the Ecosystems presented findings from the most recent IUCN publication Restoring ecosystems using risk assessment science - A guide to applying the Red List of Ecosystems, which integrates the understanding of red list ecosystems for planning restoration and how ecosystem risk assessment can guide strategic restoration planning and monitoring. This publication will be available in the next few months.

Other events which included the participation of CEM members were Climate change and biodiversity interlinkages: From science-policy assessments to action with the participation of Angela Andrade and Pam McElwee, Science-based action and enhancing capacities for ecosystem restoration: A decade for collaboration with the participation of Angela Andrade, Cara Nelson and Jim Hallet, Fisheries and biodiversity: Smooth sailing or stormy seas? by the Fisheries Expert group, the Campus Session: Transforming Nature and People: A social-ecological systems approach with the participation of Mike Jones and Dorian Fougères, Agroforestry for climate change mitigation and sustainable development: Lessons from South Asia led by the Agroecology group, and the Outcomes and Impacts of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems through national ecosystem assessments by Group Lead and Co-lead, David Keith and Emily Nicholson.

Emily Nicholson and David Keith presented the Outcomes and Impacts of the Red List of Ecosystems in terms of ecosystem management and conservation.

Additionally, during the 5th Members' Assembly Sitting, Chair Angela Andrade highlighted some of the most significant publications and achievements throughout the last 2017-2021 period, as well as the work of the CEM thematic groups. She also took the floor to hand out several awards to a number of members for their outstanding work during the last 4 years. This included the Luc Hoffmann Award for Excellence in Ecosystem Management, which was granted to David Keith as a result of having demonstrated exceptional initiative for the development of the Global Ecosystems Typology and the Red List of Ecosystems. Likewise, Jessica Rowland was awarded the Youth Professional Award for her work with the Red List of Ecosystems.

Chair Angela Andrade holding the Luc Hoffman Award, a crafted basket from the Chocó region in Colombia, awarded to David Keith during the 5th Member’s Assembly.

During the CEM social event, held at the Reverse the Red Pavilion, Angela also took the opportunity to recognize the work of the Thematic Leaders and Regional Chairs for their dedication to the commission. The awards were handed out to the following members:

Despina Symons Steve Edwards Deepu Sivadas Pamela McElwee Birguy Lamizana Serge Garcia Cara Nelson Emmanuelle Cohen Tatyana Bragina Ian Convery Madhav Karki Mike Jones Emily Nicholson Steve Carver Kelvin Passfield Liette Vasseur Robert Kenward Rocío Cordoba Doris Cordero Bernal Herrera

Chair Angela Andrade handed out acknowledgements to Mike Jones and other CEM members in recognition of their efforts to the Commission during the CEM social event.

As Chair Angela Andrade stated withing the Solutions for the post-2020 framework panel, “the main asset CEM has is the intellectual level of our team. It’s an incubator of ideas, there are many areas of knowledge already existing that were born in the commission. So, what is most important for us is to strengthen the Young Professional Network group because we rely on them. Transdisciplinary scientists have the best chances to address the challenges we are facing.”

Other important highlights during this year’s Congress included the election of Razan Al Mubarak as new IUCN president, the first Arab woman to be appointed this position. “I am truly honored to have been elected as the 15th President of the IUCN, especially in this critical moment when we need to elevate nature conservation to the forefront of the global sustainability agenda” she stated shortly after being announced as new IUCN president. Additionally, Angela Andrade was re-elected as Chair of the Commission on Ecosystem Management for the following 4 year-term.

Razan Al Mumbarak after being announced as new IUCN President for the upcoming 2021-2025 period. Photo credit:

Once the Congress and Member’s Assembly concluded, the 106th council meeting took place. This was the first meeting of this new intersessional period, led by Razan Al Mubarak where among the other Commission Chairs, Angela Andrade presented the newly elected CEM Steering Committee with professor Liette Vasseur as Deputy Chair, as well as the vice presidents for every region, with Bernal Herrera as vice-president for Mexico, Central and South America, Madhav Karki as vice-president for Asia, Peter Smith as vice-president for Oceania, Jonathan Hughes as vice-president for Europe, Doris Mutta as vice-president for Africa, and Deepu Sivadas as representative of the Young Professionals team.

During the Member’s Assembly, several motions were approved, including 2 new motions regarding the Amazon rainforest: the protection 80% of the Amazon rainforest by 2025, a moratorium on deep-sea mining and the Protection of the Andes-Amazon rivers of Peru from large-scale infrastructure projects. Other approved motions during the Congress include the establishment of strategies for a post-covid recovery as well as promoting integrated solutions on biodiversity loss. Several motions proposed by CEM groups were also approved before and during the plenaries at the Congress, including motion 34, motion 40, motion 44, motion 45, motion 135 which “promotes human, animal and environmental health, and preventing pandemics through the One Health approach and by addressing the drivers of biodiversity loss” among others. The Marseille Manifesto was also presented during the Member’s Assembly, highlighting several major commitments agreed on during the congress, including the support for the establishment and implementation of the Blue Wall Initiative, to expand universal access to high-quality green spaces and enhance urban biodiversity in 100 cities, and the addition of 15 new countries committing to the IUCN Green List Standard, resulting in more than 70 countries participating in the “Green List” among others.

Members of COICA celebrate after the IUCN Congress endorsed a motion to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025 (Photo: COICA)

You can read more about all the motions here.

Overall, this year’s World Conservation Congress and Members assembly, concluded with ambitious commitments and the requirement to work on innovative and holistic solutions in order to address the climate and biodiversity crisis effectively as well as acknowledging that only by working together will it be possible to build a better future for all of us.

Aside from the Congress, the newly elected Steering Committee carried out the 52nd Steering Committee last week, which took place virtually and where the member’s focused on updating the Technical and Regional Groups in order to respond appropriately to the new mandate and for the development of each group’s work plan for the next 4 years.

The 52nd Steering Committee took place via Zoom due to the global pandemic.

Furthermore, CEM has also been working on resuming the monthly CEM Dialogues, starting on October 21th with the launching of the recent publication “Harnessing Nature” led by Deepu Sivadas and Shalini Dhyani from the South Asia Regional Group.

Likewise, the Oceania CEM Network group will also be hosting a Webinar on bushfires and ecosystem management. This webinar will bring together leading global CEM representatives and the Oceania network through an online interactive event to be held on 25th October 2021 at 13:00 Australian Eastern Daylight Time. The links to these events will be sent out in the following weeks so keep an eye out.

Finally, as a reminder, it is important to keep in mind that applications and renewals for the CEM membership will open on October 25th. We will be communicating with you in the next few weeks in order to confirm your renewal with the Commission. We hope to count with all of you for the upcoming period!

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