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An ambitious plan to save the world’s oceans: What happened at the IUCN nature conference

The second edition of the IUCN Leaders Forum brought together over 400 participants to identify solutions to protect and restore nature.
The second edition of the IUCN Leaders Forum brought together over 400 participants to identify solutions to protect and restore nature. Copyright Biorock Indonesia
Copyright Biorock Indonesia
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
Published on Updated
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The second edition of the IUCN Leaders Forum brought together over 400 participants to identify solutions to protect and restore nature.

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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has just launched an ambitious new initiative to protect the world’s oceans.

Earlier this month, global leaders and changemakers met in Switzerland for a conference organised by the IUCN.

The second edition of the IUCN Leaders Forum brought together over 400 participants to identify solutions to protect and restore nature.

This year’s theme was ‘Global goals for nature: Tracking progress, financing success.’

During the event, IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak announced the project which focuses on marine conservation, ocean renewable energy, shipping, aquatic food, and coastal tourism.

What is the IUCN Leaders Forum?

The 2023 IUCN Leaders Forum saw participation from climate experts, government representatives, business leaders, young people, Indigenous peoples’ organisations, and local communities.

The event took place in Geneva, as well as virtually online, and aimed to drive action to halt nature loss.

“This second IUCN Leaders Forum provides a valuable opportunity to stoke ambition, mobilise action and secure commitments from multisector stakeholders and integrate the biodiversity and climate agendas in the lead up to COP28,” Dr Grethel Aguilar, IUCN Acting Director General, said prior to the conference.

“IUCN stands ready to support governments and the private sector in their efforts towards a nature-positive future.”

Speakers at the event discussed topics including the societal transformation needed to achieve biodiversity and climate goals, financing implementation, and measuring progress towards a nature-positive world.

Other sessions considered the risks and opportunities of reversing nature loss for different sectors of the economy and how nature-based solutions can contribute to green jobs.

Young leaders and entrepreneurs pitched innovative solutions to some of the most complex biodiversity challenges the world is currently facing.

A five part breakthrough plan for the world’s oceans

During the conference, IUCN President Razan Al Mubarak announced the launch of ‘Ocean Breakthroughs’.

He described these as “transformative pathways covering five key ocean sectors, where accelerated action and investments could [...] contribute to a resilient, nature-positive and net zero future by 2050.”

The project is the joint effort of the Ocean & Coastal Zones community under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which enables collaboration between governments and key stakeholders to lower emissions and increase resilience against climate impacts.

The five ‘turning points’ of the plan focus on marine conservation, ocean renewable energy, shipping, aquatic food, and coastal tourism.

By 2030, the project will secure investments of at least €68 billion to secure the integrity of ocean ecosystems and provide at least €3.8 billion to support resilient aquatic food systems.

It also aims to install at least 380 GW of ocean renewable energy and ensure zero emission fuels make up 5 per cent of international shipping’s energy demand.

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How can technology help safeguard nature?

During the conference, multinational technology corporation Huawei and the IUCN also launched their Tech4Nature Publication.

The text showcases the role of technology in achieving effective nature conservation outcomes in 22 projects across 19 countries.

In Mexico, for example, jaguar populations are being monitored through a networked system of camera traps. These will be combined with acoustic monitoring and AI algorithms trained to detect and identify individual jaguars.

The data provided will also deliver insights into how climate change is impacting ecosystems on the north coast of the Yucatan Peninsula.

In China, a smart fire prevention system designed to protect giant panda habitats has been deployed in various locations, including Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve, a site that is on the IUCN Green List.

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In Sichuan’s panda habitats, satellite images are analysed in real time to detect possible fires. Risks can be rapidly verified and alerts instantly sent to rangers on the ground.

In 2021, the system resulted in a 71 per cent reduction in serious fires.

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