IUCN and our partners Parks Australia and the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service extend you a very warm welcome to the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, and the beautiful city of Sydney.

Taking the theme of Parks, People, Planet – Inspiring Solutions, the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 will advance an ambitious agenda that will inspire solutions for today's most pressing global challenges. As a prestigious global gathering of protected area leaders and professionals and the wider cross-section of society, with a legacy of collaboration and innovation dating back to the inaugural event in 1961, this World Parks Congress promises to build a dynamic foundation for achieving conservation and development goals for the decade to come.

For the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, we are particularly inspired by the success of the last Congress, held in Durban, South Africa in 2003. Durban helped develop a new paradigm for protected areas, defining and advancing the roles of governance, sustainable finance, capacity development, social equity and benefit sharing, leading to the Durban Action Plan and Durban Accord, both of which informed the Convention on Biological Diversity's successful Programme of Work on Protected Areas.

Sydney offers the opportunity to build on this success and to go further to confront the new challenges facing the world. Coming at the halfway mark of the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, agreed by nearly 200 governments in Nagoya, Japan in 2010, this Congress will provide a unique opportunity to report on our progress and take bold new steps. It will enable us to build new alliances, and to respond to what the world needs from protected areas for sustainable development.

In Sydney, our work will build on our collective achievements while drawing inspiration from the next generation of conservation leaders. We look forward to welcoming youth, governments, businesses and indigenous peoples to unite in partnerships from beyond the conservation world, where our shared ambition to provide lasting natural solutions to today's conservation and development challenges will result in tangible and enduring benefits for parks and people worldwide.

Please join us as we embark on this singular journey in support of IUCN's vision of 'a just world that values and conserves nature'.

Welcome to the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014!

Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN

IUCN WCPA Parks Australia NSW NPWS