▲ Enrique J. Lahmann, acting manager of the 2012 World Conservation Congress. Photo by Darryl Coote
Though the 2012 World Conservation Congress is still more than two years away, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Korean Ministry of Environment and the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province have much to prepare for a gathering of such magnitude. With a projected attendance of 6,000 to 8,000 participants from around the world, clarifying the specific responsibilities of the parties involved is the responsibility of Enrique J. Lahmann, director of the IUCN Constituency Support group and acting manager of the congress. Lahmann visited Jeju from July 22 to 25 to discuss details of an agreement to be signed between the parties in late October.
“It was more general terms,” Lahmann said of a memorandum of understanding that was signed in March. “The main purpose was to have the opportunity to tell the world,” that Jeju would host the 2012 WCC. On his most recent trip to Jeju, Lahmann hoped to iron out the finer details. What we need to make sure [of] is that there is an adequate understanding of what is required and that it is agreed already that these are the responsibilities,” he said.
“The complexity of organizing this type of congress does require quite a bit of time in putting all the elements together.”
Korea’s National Assembly passed a special bill in mid-May that allotted a large sum to finance the 2012 WCC. Lahmann said this was one of the biggest things to occur since the signing in March. During Korea’s bid to host the congress, he said, a member of the National Assembly had promised such a bill if Jeju was chosen as the host destination. “This is the first time in any congress organized by the IUCN that there has been a special law,” he said. It was “very meaningful” and reaffirmed Korea’s commitment to the congress. This bill will also help facilitate other central government responsibilities.
Jeju’s responsibilities lay more in the realm of administrative and organizational, he said, and, “in terms of infrastructure, nothing else needs to be constructed.” This existing infrastructure was one of the attractive qualities of the island presented in Korea’s proposal to host the event.
Though it is the responsibility of all three parties to ensure a green congress, it is Jeju’s specific duty to make sure all amenities and forms of transportation for the attendees adheres to the guide-lines, such as the use of hybrid or electric cars for transport and regulations on the use of water during the 10-day congress. To help guarantee that the 2012 WCC will be as environmental as possible, a green conservation officer will look over the preparations of the congress and “will be responsible to make sure that what is said is really put into practice.”
Measures would be taken, Lahmann said, to compensate for the carbon footprint produced by those traveling to Jeju for the congress and for that of the congress itself. The Jeju government suggested the creation of a memorial forest to counteract the produced carbon dioxide.
Some changes from the 2008 WCC in Barcelona that will be implemented in the 2012 WCC concern the presentation and organization of information. “Barcelona was a little bit loose,” Lahmann said, stressing that much care will go into the planning stages of the 2012 congress. The WCC is comprised of two sections: a forum, which acts as a market place of conservation ideas; and a members’ assembly, which is an environmental legislation meeting. Many of the agreed upon alterations from the 2008 WCC concern the forum, such as reducing the number of concurrent events and workshops from a maximum of 23 to eight. “This time,” Lahmann said, “our intention is to have less simultaneous events so people have the opportunity to [see more], or people will not miss that much, but that means that the selection process is more difficult and we have to be more careful.” The events will also be lengthened from the previous hour and a half to two hours. “A number of the participants felt that once the discussion was getting interesting, it ended.”
Lahmann stressed the necessity of coherent and cohesive themes to present the defined objectives of the congress. Eight to 10 themes will be selected, he said. These themes, in turn, will influence the selection of what events or workshops will be presented.
During Lahmann’s short sojourn on Jeju he was scheduled to meet with Woo Keun Min, the new governor, to “establish good working relations.” “I would like to hear from him what he wants in connection with the congress.” He also looked forward to a cycling trip he was to take part in the day after our interview, allowing him to “enjoy a little bit of Jeju.”
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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