8,000 con­ser­va­tion­ists con­vene in Hawaii

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By YAN DONGJIE

So far Septem­ber in the Aloha State has been all about pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

About 8,000 peo­ple from more than 180 coun­tries have gath­ered in Honolulu Sept 1 to 10 to dis­cuss en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment chal­lenges at the 6th World Con­ser­va­tion Congress of the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture (IUCN).

About 300 Chi­nese govern­ment of­fi­cials, aca­demics, re­searchers and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion groups at­tended the congress, join­ing what’s be­ing called its largest at­ten­dance yet, ac­cord­ing to Guo Yufu, a di­rec­tor from China’s State Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“We’d like to high­light China’s progress in en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion in re­cent years and our de­ter­mi­na­tion to build an eco-civ­i­liza­tion — re­spect­ing, adapt­ing to and con­serv­ing na­ture in meet­ing our so­cial and eco­nomic needs,” said Guo.

With 1 ,300 both gov­ern­men­tal and pri­vate or­ga­ni­za­tions as mem­bers, the IUCN has grown into the world’s largest and most di­verse en­vi­ron­men­tal net­work since its cre­ation in 1948.

Rep­re­sent­ing China as a mem­ber coun­try, the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs joined the IUCN in 1996. Since then more than 30 or­ga­ni­za­tions in China have also joined, ac­cord­ing to Hou Bo, a staff mem­ber of IUCN’s China of­fice.

The con­ven­tion’s theme this year is Planet at the Cross­roads.

On Sept 4, it was an­nounced that the gi­ant panda would be down­graded from En­dan­gered to Vul­ner­a­ble on the IUCN’s’ Red List of Threat­ened Species.

[The gi­ant panda] “pop­u­la­tion has grown due to ef­fec­tive for­est pro­tec­tion and re­for­esta­tion,” the IUCN an­nounce­ment read. “The im­proved sta­tus con­firms that the Chi­nese govern­ment’s ef­forts to con­serve this species are ef­fec­tive.”

In ad­di­tion, the Ti­betan an­te­lope was moved from En­dan­gered to Near Threat­ened, down­grad­ing two notches, as its pop­u­la­tion “is cur­rently likely to be be­tween 100,000 and 150,000”, vir­tu­ally dou­ble the es­ti­mated 65,00072,500 of the 1980s and early ’90s.

“I never imag­ined that the Chi­nese govern­ment was mak­ing such an ef­fort to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment, bi­o­log­i­cal di­ver­sity, and habi­tats,” said Wang Zhenyao, pres­i­dent of China Global Phi­lan­thropy In­sti­tute, who at­tended IUCN congress as well as the ear­lier third East-West Sus­tain­abil­ity Sum­mit, an an­nual global meet­ing led by Chi­nese phi­lan­thropists con­cerned with the en­vi­ron­ment.

“Decades ago, earn­ing a liv­ing was peo­ple’s big­gest con­cern,” said Wang. “As the econ­omy de­vel­ops, peo­ple start to pay more at­ten­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment, car­ing about the air, wa­ter, and soil, which our deca­dents will be liv­ing with.”

YAN DONGJIE / FOR CHINA DAILY

A visi­tor signs the wall of the Hawaii Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, where IUCN World Con­ven­tion Congress was be­ing held from Sept 1 to 10.

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