The first World Leaders’ Conservation Forum that was held in the Republic of South Korea underscored the critical role of nature conservation in peace building and sustainable development. It called for bold leadership at the global and local levels to stop the devastating loss of biodiversity taking place today.
Under the theme Nature: a path to peace and coexistence, the Forum included technical Expert Sessions and a World Leaders’ Dialogue that covered a range of topics from the threats to biodiversity and co-existence between humans and wildlife to peace-building and sustainable development.
Hosted by the Republic of Korea’s Ministry of the Environment, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and IUCN, this inaugural event attracted more than 700 participants from 52 countries.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a video message to Forum participants, commending the organisers for taking up these issues. Distinguished author and journalist Alan Weisman delivered an insightful keynote speech drawing on decades of research into human impacts on the environment, warning we were playing a game of “Russian roulette” with biodiversity.
“Human progress and nature conservation are complementary, and we must ensure that the two thrive together – not consume each other, said IUCN Director General Inger Andersen. “There are credible and accessible political, economic and technological approaches that can promote human welfare in ways that support – and even enhance – our natural planet’s assets. We have a limited window of opportunity to act, before it will be too late.”
The Republic of Korea Minister of Environment Yoon Seongkyu noted that for too long nature conservation was considered a constraint to economic development. “But when we connect nature conservation and economic growth, and engage them with each other, they become one strong and powerful mechanism that will lead us toward a better future for all.”
The Governor of Jeju Self-Governing Province Won Heeryong noted that while there is a growing awareness that human survival ultimately depends on healthy, resilient ecosystems, “we urgently need a new concept of environmental peace, where we live in harmony with nature.”