Aroha Te Pareake Mead, New Zealand

16 April 2012 | Article

Kia ora koutou katoa. Greetings everyone. One of the great challenges facing IUCN will be bridging the divide between environmental issues and economic development and social equity issues. Conservation is not just about the environment anymore, it is also about respecting and advocating for a ‘just world’ as IUCN’s Vision clearly articulates.

This requires environmental policies to be contextualized, developed and implemented within broader social and economic goals, and vice versa. It also requires bold thinking that moves political and social aspirations beyond the current ways of thinking. There is a Maori proverb that says ‘Ki te kahore he whakakitenga ka ngaro te iwi’ - Without foresight or vision the people will be lost. It can equally be said that without foresight and vision the environment will be irreparably damaged.

While it is important to keep reinforcing the point that damage is being caused to the environment through current unsustainable practices, it is also important to know there is a lot that can and must be done to reverse these negative socio-economic environmental trends. There are many innovative ways in which communities, indigenous peoples, and civil society groups are managing their environment and sustainable livelihoods. More effort needs to be directed towards local-level solutions and to transform these success stories into sound policies and laws. I look forward to contributing to this work in IUCN.

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