Jeju, South Korea, and Cancun, Mexico have both applied to host the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2012. The successful candidate will follow in the footsteps of Barcelona, Spain, which hosted the event in Oct. 2008.
Held every four years, the Congress aims to improve how the world’s natural environment is managed for human, social and economic development.
More than 6,600 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations attended the meeting in Barcelona, where they discussed, debated and agreed on solutions for the world’s most pressing environmental issues.
“I do believe the approval of the bid will be another historic moment for Jeju following the 2009 ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit held June 1 and 2” said an official of the Jeju provincial government in charge. “Not only will the approval solidify Jeju’s status as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, but it will also help build a brand image as “green Jeju.”
Both candidates submitted their bids to the IUCN Council by the deadline June, 30, 2009 in hopes of hosting the coveted conservation event. The official inspections of the nominated sites will take place between Aug. 17 and Sept. 18.
The Ministry of Environment, Korea, launched its full-fledged campaign in conjunction with Jeju provincial government, to step up its efforts to host the largest gathering of the world’s conservation decision-makers and practitioners at multiple levels.
A “one million signature gathering” campaign began nationwide this month as part of a plan to increase people’s interest and involvement. So far, it is not too early to say “optimistic.” Some environment experts who are gaining worldwide recognition scored Jeju’s environment “excellent,” and firmed up their commitment to support for hosting such a big event.
Some point out that when it comes to publicity around the world, Jeju is getting far less of it than Cancun. To combat this, The Ministry and Jeju government have gone all out with promotion projects aimed at highlighting Jeju’s outstanding natural environment, world-acclaimed convention facilities, and vivid evidence of conservation efforts.
The projects underway underscore the fact that Jeju is host to an array of international conventions, including the 2009 ASEAN-ROK Summit, to prove its suitability. They also highlight its image as having been designated as Ramsar’s “Wetland Conservation Area,” UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve and World Natural Heritage.
The successful bidding will mount an important drive to promote President Lee Myung Bak’s vision of low carbon and green growth, which is also in line with the island’s top priority. Significant strides are being made to “green” the island, one being to establish what’s known as “Climate Change Action City,” the country’s first test bed of finding solutions for reversing the threat of climate change.
Headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network - a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.
Its mission is to “influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.”
Cancun, the competing strong bidder, is a world-renowned tourist resort, sometimes known as the “Mexican Caribbean.” It has become the destination of preference for meetings and conventions because of the amplitude of its landscapes and all the infrastructure resources including international airports. Four million visitors arrive each year in an average of 190 flights daily.
Previous host cities include Athens, Greece; Montreal, Canada; Perth, Australia and Nairobi, Kenya. Bangkok, Thailand is the only other Asian city to have hosted the Congress, in 2004.
The country with the winning bid and the date for the 2012 Congress will be announced by the IUCN Council in November.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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