Environmental Affairs Minister and Deputy Minister lead South African delegation to 6th world parks congress in Sydney, Australia

Nov 13, 2014

South Africa today officially handed over the torch for the World Parks Congress to Australia as the hosts of the 6th World Parks Congress, being held in Sydney from today (12 November 2014) to 19 November 2014.

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa is leading the South African delegation that includes the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Barbara Thomson. The South African delegation is comprised of government officials, representatives of conservation management authorities, SANParks and the People and Parks Programme, NGOs, universities, the business sector and local communities.

Delivering an address on behalf of South Africa, Ms Thomson said the management of natural resources in a megadiverse and developing country is a tremendous responsibility. "It requires innovative solutions, youth-centred policies, sustainable financing as well as harnessing strategic partnerships to unlock opportunity – all the while mindful of the need to balance the developmental needs of that country with conservation," she said.

This Congress is an opportunity to learn from each other and  to work in partnership to sustain, protect and conserve the natural wonder of our home, Planet Earth, for  future generations.

“On behalf of my government, allow me to salute all of you here for your dedication, resilience and commitment; often in the face of significant challenges,” she said appealing to the more than 5 000 delegates from more than 160 countries not to fail the Planet as the sustainer of Life.

The theme of the 2014 Congress, being held at the Sydney Olympic Park, is "Parks, People Planet: Inspiring Solutions". The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Parks Congress (WPC) 2014 is a landmark global forum on protected areas held every 10 years. The 5th Congress was held in Durban, South Africa, in 2003. The Durban Action, adopted at the end of the 2003 Congress, was accepted by the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties (CBD COP 7) as the Programme of Work on Protected Areas.

Delegates will consider ways to address the gap between conservation and the sustainable development agenda. Delegates will in the coming days articulate the vital role of protected areas in conserving nature while delivering essential ecosystem services; position protected areas within goals of economic and community well-being, and demonstrate how this can be achieved in practice.

The WPC has substantially influenced the way in which the world has viewed the systems of protected areas. The series of congresses have influenced the perspectives of many people on the role of protected areas in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development among others. Each congress has been vital to conservation policy worldwide, addressing global challenges and opportunities, establishing standards to ensure that protected areas are effective and are sources of inspiration and innovation for the next following decade.

South Africa is a chair of IUCN South African National Committee which is chaired by the outgoing Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation, Mr. Fundisile Mketeni. As the hosts of the previous Congress, South Africa participated in the symbolic handover of a torch to the Congress host during an opening ceremony on 12 November 2014 by four young rangers – two from South Africa and two from Australia.   Tribute was also paid to Nelson Mandela, one of the patrons of the 2003 Congress, by his great grandson, Luvuyo Mandela.

South Africa will host a side event on rhino conservation on 13 November.  Hosted by the Minister, the event is aimed showcasing how South Africa has increased its efforts in protecting this endangered species, and highlighting the challenges encountered in protecting this species.

The Department of Environmental Affairs will be co-hosting an exhibition stand together with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States who are part of the Boundless Southern Africa (Transfrontier Conservation Areas Marketing brand) to showcase the management of Transfrontier Conservation Areas within the SADC region. South Africa will be speaking about the SADC TFCAs on 12 November, while another side event will deal with tourism in the region’s Transfrontier parks.

Article source: www.sanparks.co.za
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