Marjorie Ziegler in the Members’ Assembly. Photo courtesy Marjorie Ziegler.
Marjorie Ziegler, through the Conservation Council for Hawai‘i (CCH), worked in a coalition from Hawai‘i for the past 5 years to bring the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress to Hawai‘i. After Honolulu was selected as the location, she worked with many others to help ensure a successful congress. CCH joined the IUCN as a full voting member in 2015 and Marjorie voted on several key motions at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress that will impact local and international conservation efforts.
How did you represent Hawaii’s delegation?
There is no formal “Hawai‘i delegation.” Each Hawai‘i member is independent, and no member represents all of the Hawai‘i members. There are 8 full voting members from Hawai‘i and 6 non-voting members. The Conservation Council for Hawai‘i’s IUCN delegation included CCH president Julie Leialoha, CCH member Lorraine Garnier, and myself. CCH administrator Jonee Peters led a team of 16 volunteers to man our booth in the Exhibition Hall.
Can you tell us what is was like to be in the voting room?
It was exciting and fun. The Members’ Assembly was divided into areas for full voting members and observers. The voting members were provided voting machines, which instantly tallied our votes and categorized them by nongovernment organizations and agencies. We had headphones for the translation of English, Spanish, and French languages. It reminded me of the United Nations General Assembly.
What was accomplished during the week of IUCN 2016?
IUCN full voting members voted on motions, officers, commission chairs, and program and financial plan for 2017-20. Important discussions on policies and points of order took place on the floor of the Members’ Assembly. Consensus was attempted for controversial motions in control groups before and after the Members’ Assembly prior to voting on these motions. Major networking and relationship building was also a major function of the congress, in addition to the exchange of information. People were also inspired at the congress, and perhaps recharged to return to their homes and offices with renewed commitments to saving the world’s wildlife and wild places.
Conservation Council for Hawai‘i’s booth in the Exhibition Hall and representatives from CCH and National Wildlife Federation. Photo by Laurie Sumiye.
The congress provided an excellent opportunity to highlight what Hawai‘i does well in the conservation arena, as well as the challenges we face in an isolated island setting in a warming world. For CCH, the congress and our booth provided an excellent opportunity to meet people, share aloha and make them feel welcome to our island home, share information about CCH’s purpose, and sell products to help support CCH’s conservation work.
What motions were you most excited about?
A motion encouraging the closure of elephant ivory markets globally as a matter of urgency, a motion encouraging the designation and effective implementation of at least 30% of each marine habitat in a network of highly protected marine protected areas, and a motion supporting increased conservation effort for Hawai‘i’s threatened birds, which we introduced on behalf of a dozen or so wildlife organizations.
Please tell us about a few interesting people you met during the Congress.
I met Susumu Inamine, Mayor of Nago, Okinawa, and his staff. They are opposing the construction of a large U.S. Marine Corps Air Station at Henoko Bay proposed by the United States and Japan. Through a translator, we discussed the challenges of opposing a military project in Okinawa and the United States. We shared experiences in doing so and general strategy. I met a woman from Jordan who worked with an organizations to protect tortoises and sea turtles. I was able to share contact information for nongovernment organizations in the United States working on sea turtle protection. I also met people from Hawai‘i I know by email, including artist Calley O’Neil, whose fabulous large tapestry wildlife art was on exhibit at the Forum on the third floor. It was nice to put faces to the names I had known only from social media to that point.
The Rama Exhibition by Calley O’Neill and The Rama Team, Featuring RAMA, the Artist Elephant at the Hawaii Convention Center. Photo by Laurie Sumiye.
What was most inspiring?
I was inspired by the fact that nearly 200 nations are connected to the IUCN and are concerned about wildlife conservation. I was inspired that most of the policy motions were adopted. I loved the art, the sets in the Pavilions, the booths, the resting/networking areas (couches and all!), and the booths. I was pleasantly surprised that CCH’s booth, educational materials, and products were so popular.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Apparently, the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai‘i was the largest congress so far, hosted the most countries – nearly all, if not all 195 or 196 countries depending on whether Taiwan is counted, and was the most action-oriented of all congresses so far. I also think attendees enjoyed the congress and the aloha spirit. We did it, Hawai‘i! Mission accomplished!
If you want to learn more about the motions passed, visit IUCN’s website: https://portals.iucn.org/congress/assembly/motions
A packed hula performance at the Hawai‘i-Pacific Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall. Photo by Laurie Sumiye.