One of the key activities during the IUCN World Conservation Congress is the review and adoption of motions. Motions may take the form of a resolution or a recommendation. Resolutions are directed to IUCN itself, and recommendations are directed to third parties. 176 motions have been proposed in total, one third more than in Barcelona. I was astounded to learn that one quarter of the motions were prepared by IUCN Members from Europe.
IUCN Members have reviewed every morning during the Congress a selection of motions that reflected the discussions in the Forum the day before. This was a new arrangement, trying to link the Forum debates in workshops, pavilions and knowledge cafés with the “official” sessions of the General Assembly.
The motions process is not easy. One criticism is that there are too many motions. It is true that more than 170 motions makes is difficult to devote enough time to each of them, but on the other hand the volume and variety of issues is a reflection of the strengths of IUCN. Another problem has been that in the plenary all motions are available on the web, but if all participants are on-line at the same time, and some are using internet search engines to obtain additional information, the system slows down. As a result, not all the up-to-date texts were easily accessible. Finally, the issue of amendments to the original texts arises. When a motion is controversial or leads to objections or critical questions, often a contact group is convened that discusses the issues off-stage, tries to find compromises to opposing views and come up with a win-win solution. The text changes, and an amended text goes on the web. It is important that the final vote incorporates these amendments.
As you can imagine, participants do ask for the microphone to speak, raise concerns, ask for clarification, or explain their views. The overall result of these complications is that we are behind time, and tomorrow, Friday 14 September, we may have to work until late at night, as the Congress closes on Saturday 15 September.
There are a number of important motions for Europe. Apart from some of the globally relevant motions that are relevant the region, such as those regarding the possible membership of local authorities, envisaged changes in statutory Regions, a request to incorporate geodiversity in our Programme and considerations about IUCN’s work on energy, there is also a good number that deal specifically with Europe.
Motions about concerns regarding illegal hunting of migratory birds in the Meditarranean (033), protection of Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia (061) and the need for environmental safeguards regarding oil and gas exploration in the Mediterranean (120) have already been passed. Tomorrow the Members will discuss a motion about Chagos (177) which invites the Governments of Mauritius and the United Kingdom to jointly develop a management plan for the archipelago, and a recommendation for EU institutions to ensure adequate investments in Europe Overseas, and include the territories in the 2014-2020 LIFE regulations for funding. Another motion that is particularly relevant to Europe is motion 005, which pertains to the strengthening of the IUCN National and Regional Committees. This is a motion that is currently being reviewed by a contact group, but the original text is a resolution that calls on the Director General to develop appropriate mechanisms to support a more integrated and lasting participation by National and Regional Committees in the execution of the Union’s Programme, based on the One Programme.
There are other motions relevant for Europe, and all motions will form part of our programme of activities in the coming four years. I am particularly happy for the ones on national committees and overseas territories, as we can respond with the manpower and technical resources within the Regional Office. For some other motions, we may need to raise funds and call upon support from our Commission experts and others in the IUCN network.