World Parks Congress – Day 6

On day six, the rapporteurs presented their findings from all the streams and cross cutting sessions that had been taking place at the World Parks Congress. The recommendations and comments made would go towards the overarching document that will be released after the Congress in what is being dubbed ‘the promise of Sydney’.

Rapporteur: reconciling development with conservation

The first report was about reconciling development with conservation, a balance that has been extremely hard to achieve. It appears that nearly three decades on, the international community is still grappling with the concept and meaning on sustainable development.

The promise of Sydney will argue that investment in conservation should be seen by governments and policy makers as investment in ‘critical development’. By doing so, it is hoped that ecosystem services provided by the natural environment are valued. For conservation to be considered as critical development and for the highest benefits to be acquired from ecosystem services, landscape scale conservation and management must be implemented.

Rapporteur: Respecting indigenous knowledge and culture

As stated by Professor. Patrick Dodson during the opening ceremony:

“Modernity must learn about connectivity” (Dodson, 2014)

The World Parks Congress in Sydney was the first time  in the history of the congress, that the role of indigenous knowledge, culture and tradition played such a central role in the conversations about conservation. Indigenous people have been the ultimate conservationists and have had a stewardship relationship with their lands for thousands of years. Indeed, they are often now in the front-lines, working in grassroots projects to conserve, rehabilitate, protect landscapes and sea-scapes. Many, work as park rangers and have lost their lives protecting these places of natural beauty.

Rapporteur: New Social Compact

This stream reflected and reinforced the central role of indigenous culture and knowledge. However, the focus of these workshops and discussions were on the history of dispossession and disconnection that have been perpetrated on local indigenous people from their ‘tribal’ lands.

“Historical injustices of nature conservation should be addressed”

Having protected areas is not enough, there needs to be a move away from fragmentation (of both indigenous people and conservation areas) to integration.

An interesting mural showcasing the link between people and nature



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