The opening ceremony for the World Parks Congress – Sydney saw nearly 4000 delegates, including VIPs, high level dignitaries and volunteers converge at Sydney Olympic Park.
The ceremony began with a traditional indigenous welcome to country, followed by speeches by the likes of Nelson Mandela’s great grandson, the Australian Federal Minister for the Environment (majority of the Australian delegates were not impressed/confused by the Minister’s statements) and the New South Wales Minister for the Environment.
Delegates arriving into the Opening ceremony hall
There were three important messages that all speakers alluded to during the course of the ceremony.
1. Any large scale conservation management must include the local community, with the local indigenous population being at the core of decision making. That no-one should be ‘left behind’ when it comes to protected areas.
2. That the youth needs to be more involved in protected area management, as highlighted my Mandela during the Durban WPC in 2004. Indeed, Mandela’s grandson referred to ‘growing a collective legacy’.
3. The third piece of the puzzle is climate change and how it not only affects ecosystem resilience but also provides opportunities to implement long term and effective management strategies.
There is so much faith and positive energy at this conference, that the President of Gabon announced that 23% of the waters within Gabon’s territory would be designated a marine park.
Opening ceremony underway
I am already looking forward to what Day 2 brings. I will try and keep everyone updated as best I can.