IUCN’s convening power important for dialogue on conservation issues, President says

26 February 2013 | Article

IUCN Members in South Africa have been urged to continue making use of the IUCN convening power to discuss key conservation issues affecting South Africa and the rest of the world. The remarks were made by the IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng during the recent meeting of the IUCN National Committee of South Africa held in Pretoria, South Africa on February 22, 2013.

Among others things, the IUCN Members discussed the tourism development plans by the South Africa National Parks (SANPARKS) in the Kruger National Park and examined whether the development brings any threats to the biodiversity in the area. This was in response to the request from some concerned IUCN Members in South Africa. Mr Glenn Phillips, SANPARKS Management Executive for Tourism and Marketing and his team gave a detailed presentation on the history of tourism development in Kruger National Park and specifically on the proposed additional tourism facilities in the area.

The IUCN President commended IUCN Members for holding the discussions in a transparent and constructive manner. “Our main focus as a conservation community is to find ways of addressing modern challenges while focusing on sustainability,” he said. 

He informed the IUCN Members that his main priority as President of IUCN is to meet as many IUCN National Committees as possible in order to get first-hand information on the work of IUCN. “We need to constantly think about how IUCN can best serve its Members, in order to address the conservation and development challenges effectively.”

The IUCN National Committee of South Africa meets every quarter and this meeting brought together IUCN Members in South Africa, programme staff from the IUCN South Africa office and some representatives from the IUCN Commissions. The Tourism and Protected Areas Specialist (TAPAS) Group of IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) was specifically invited to add their technical expertise on the discussion on tourism development in Kruger National Park.

After the meeting the President joined IUCN Members and staff to a luncheon hosted in his honour by the South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs (IUCN State Member), before having one-on-one meetings with each of the Members present.

During the visit, the IUCN President also visited the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to South Africa, His Excellency Mr Tian Xuejun, and the Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa.

For more information, please contact Hastings Chikoko, Head of IUCN Office in South Africa on hastings.chikoko@iucn.org