Message from President Tarja Halonen
Dear members and partners of IUCN,
The conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources are fundamental to human life and well-being. Healthy ecosystems provide food, water and energy as well as employment, livelihoods and security. Ecosystem services are the prerequisite for economic, social and ecological sustainability. Yet the pace of biodiversity loss is increasing, bringing drastic changes to our way of life and weakening our efforts to combat hunger, thirst and inequality.
Today, many global conflicts are about the control of natural resources, making conservation a key pillar of stable and peaceful societies. Severe food and water scarcity can lead to environmentally forced migration and increase conflicts and violence. We have the tools and methods to manage our ecosystems in sustainable ways, but what we no longer have is time to delay the action. Civil society actors and international environmental organizations like IUCN have a vital role to play in promoting sustainable practices such as nature based solutions, which help to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapting to its adverse impacts.
I am very glad that I have been able to be a part of a long term collaboration with IUCN in promoting the role of women and gender equality in environmental issues. The empowerment of women provides sustainable solutions in the management of the environment. Women must be included in the development and implementation of natural resources planning and decision making.
I am pleased to be the patron of this important event, and I wish you fruitful discussions on priorities and collaboration of the Pan-European conservation community. These discussions are very timely since this year the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 agenda for sustainable development and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will hopefully agree on a new global climate agreement.
I wish all participants of the Forum a most warm welcome to Finland, as I hope that you learn more about Finland and enjoy all that our country has to offer!
Above all, I hope that your meeting is productive and successful.
Former President of Finland
Patron of the Regional Conservation Forum