Hawaii convention center

World’s largest conservation gathering will come to Honolulu

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has selected Honolulu as the first U.S. venue to host its World Conservation Congress.

Will Caron

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has decided to hold its 2016 World Conservation Congress (WCC) at the Hawaii Convention Center. This will be the first time a U.S. location is hosting the WCC since IUCN’s inception in 1948. Honolulu beat out Istanbul, Turkey as the other finalist.

“This is both an honor and opportunity for us to show the entire conservation community, the world over, how Hawaii has adopted a leadership role in preserving and protecting resources, developing sustainability programs on multiple-fronts, and addressing many of the issues associated with global climate change,” Gov. Abercrombie said today in a press release announcing the decsion. “The IUCN World Conservation Congress is the largest and most prestigious of all gatherings of the conservation community. Hawaii was widely recognized as an ideal venue, including a strong expression of support from President Obama. We look forward to welcoming as many as 8,000 delegates to Hawaii in 2016.”

In February 2014, a four-person delegation from the IUCN visited Hawaii for one week. The delegation toured natural and cultural sites on Hawaii island, Oahu, and Kauai, and held meetings with government and non-government organizations (NGO), as well as with non-profit and private industry representatives who will be involved in the planning and execution of the 2016 gathering.

“Hawaii’s unique culture, location and environment are the perfect attributes for this worldwide conference,” said DLNR chairman William J. Aila, Jr. “We have a lot to offer in how we manage our limited resources and integrate indigenous knowledge and practices in our changing world.”

“This is a massive undertaking that will require the kokua of dozens of organizations and hundreds of people, from those in the travel and hospitality industry, to convention planners, and of course the members of the public-private planning team,” said Chipper Wichman, director and CEO of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and co-chair of the Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee. “We are up to the challenge and eagerly look forward to showing representatives from more than 160 nations what Hawaii has to offer in terms of conservation leadership, sustainability initiatives, and addressing of critical issues surrounding global climate change.”

The IUCN World Conservation Congress’ has two main parts. The Forum is a hub of public debate bringing together people from all walks of life to discuss the world’s most pressing conservation issues, while the Members’ Assembly is IUCN’s highest decision-making body. A unique global-environmental parliament, the Assembly involves governments and NGOs—both large and small; national and international—making joint decisions.

The WCC is held every four years and is touted as the only global summit that represents every aspect of conservation. It’s goal is to improve management of natural resources to allow for human, social and economic development with minimal impact on the environment.

For more information on the International Union for Conservation of Nature, visit: iucn.org