We live in a time of tremendous change, the nature and extent of which is the subject of intense debate around the world. At the heart of this debate is the clash of immediate human needs with their long-term impacts on the planet’s capacity to support life.
With a timeframe of 15 years, the world has committed to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals – an ambitious agenda for improving human living conditions for all. There is a real sense of urgency in this call to action, as many believe there is a closing window of opportunity to effect meaningful change in Humanity’s trajectory. Our future will be decided by the choices we make now.
The current debate is framed by two competing narratives. One is a pessimistic view of our future which claims that it is already too late to avoid catastrophe, and therefore we must now focus on survival and recovery. This leaves people in despair. The other is a stubborn optimism arguing that Humanity has faced and overcome many great challenges in the past and will continue to do so. This risks indifference and denial.
But there is a viable alternative approach – one that stresses that nature conservation and human progress are not mutually exclusive. Facing tremendous forces of transformation such as climate change and socioeconomic inequality, there are credible and accessible political, economic, cultural and technological choices that can promote general welfare in ways that support and even enhance our planet’s natural assets.
For the alternative path to be credible and viable, we need new partnerships across the planet, between governments, NGOs, conservationists, scientists, consumers, producers, urban planners, entrepreneurs, grassroots and indigenous organisations and financial backers. Each partner holds a vital piece of the puzzle – the knowledge, the tools, the resources. We need to bring these pieces together, and collectively complete the greatest puzzle ever attempted: to secure Nature’s support systems so that Humanity and the greater community of life may continue to prosper on Earth. This is our collective challenge for the next 15 years, and this is the invitation that the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 is offering to the world.
Read more about the Congress theme