Highlighting the importance of wetlands and satellite-based information at the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016

Held every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress is the world’s largest and most democratic conservation forum. The IUCN Congress took place in Hawai’i in early September and over the course of ten days, Members discuss and vote on key conservation and environment issues as well as elect leaders. “Planet at a Crossroads” – the theme of this year’s IUCN Congress, brought together top professionals from all regions and expertise to share knowledge on how our natural environment should be managed for the continued well-being of humanity and all life on Earth. With over 10,000 participants from 192 countries, this year marked the largest Congress to date.

At the Congress, SWOS was put in the spotlight in the form of a poster, outlining the Horizon 2020 projects’ aims and objectives and progress made thus far. The poster shared some of the services and ‘GEOtools’ that the project will generate and how this can further benefit the monitoring and conservation of wetlands. As part of IUCN’s ‘Green Congress’ initiative, the SWOS poster, as well as other posters presented, was digitally displayed on screens. The SWOS poster was not the only instance where the value of wetlands and the need for their improved conservation and management was highlighted at the IUCN Congress. NASA, for instance, organised pavilion events to illustrate the diverse applications satellite imagery can provide for biodiversity observation and monitoring. These discussions contributed toward thematic sessions focused on championing nature-based solutions to tackle climate change and actions needed for a sustainable ocean. Such debates reinforce the relevance of the SWOS project and its added value to advancing nature conservation.


Other high-level sessions focused on the benefits of private finance, ending wildlife trafficking, connecting spirituality and conservation and empowering the next generation. More than one hundred motions were also past during the Members’ Assembly that took place during the second half of the IUCN Congress. Important motions for SWOS were the approval to secure the future of global peatlands; harmonise the integrated management of overlapping Ramsar Sites, World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves and UNESCO Global Geoparks; and identifying Key Biodiversity Areas for Safeguarding biodiversity. These motions demonstrate IUCN and its Members’ continued commitment to protect and conserve wetlands worldwide.

By Bianca Vergnaud

Photos by: IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth and Diego Noguera