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IUCN World Parks Congress

IUCN World Parks Congress Programme

With less than eight months before the start of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, the global Congress team in Australia, Thailand, Switzerland, UK, Mexico and Colombia is working literally around the clock to shape the programme for what will be an exciting and inspiring eight days in Sydney.

By the 15 March deadline, we had received close to 2,000 submissions for the Congress programme – showing a great deal of interest in the event and its themes from around the world. On behalf of the entire team, I would like to thank all of you who have responded to our call and your already valuable contributions towards the success of the Sydney Congress. If, however, you missed the deadline, don’t worry – you can still propose to host a side event at the Congress before 12 May.

As you are reading this newsletter, the organizers of the Congress, including IUCN, WCPA, stream leaders, and our hosts -- Parks Australia and New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service -- have just completed their first face-to-face meeting in Cuernavaca, Mexico to advance Congress preparations.

Over the next few weeks, they will have the exciting, yet daunting task of turning this wealth of ideas into workshops, panel discussions, training sessions, poster presentations and other essential building blocks of the Congress programme. The close-to-final programme will be announced on the World Parks Congress website in June 2014 meaning that you can still beat the early bird deadline for registration.

Meanwhile, our Australian hosts have been working on a wonderful array of field trips taking place before and after the Congress – 22 itineraries in total, ranging from sustainable fishing on the Sydney Harbour to the iconic World Heritage Sites of Uluru and Great Barrier Reef.

We look forward to working with you in the build-up to the Congress and to seeing you all in November where we will jointly craft The Promise of Sydney. Watch this space for further details of how the outcomes of the Congress will be developed.

Trevor Sandwith
Director, IUCN World Parks Congress 2014


Would you like to visit one of the most stunning and unique parts of the world, nestled between two World Heritage Sites – the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest? By joining the “Sea Country Connections” field trip you’ll journey to this amazing landscape and have the rare opportunity to learn from the Traditional Owners and other leading experts in tropical protected area management.

In this edition we meet Field Trip Leader, Amy Diedrich.

She has dived at Kicker Rock in the Galapagos National Park, watched silhouettes of sharks drift past her, swum with Minke whales on the Great Barrier Reef and heard the Indri sing in the Andasibe Nature Reserve in Madagascar. She is now one of the World Parks Congress tour leaders, taking participants to tropical Queensland.

As Australians know, Queensland is beautiful one day and perfect the next and when Amy recently moved to tropical Queensland to take up a position with James Cook University she was literally blown away by the unique beauty of the natural and cultural heritage of the area and is excited by the opportunity to be share this with people from all corners of the globe.

“By joining my field trip, participants will gain hands-on practical skills in rapid reef assessment and learn innovative ways to manage multiple and profitable activities in protected areas. Equally important, this field trip will be a lot of fun – among other activities, delegates will swim in a tank full of sea creatures at Reef HQ, partake in a traditional Kup Kup Murri (underground cooking), and explore the spectacular country of the Nywaigi People,” said Amy.

Amy grew up with a passion for the natural world and its conservation was fortunate enough to travel extensively from an early age. “This exposed me to varied, fascinating cultural and behavioural connections between humans and natural environments and made me realise the importance of understanding and respecting these relationships as part of conservation.”

“The human capacity for innovation and manipulation of the environment is both the biggest threat and biggest hope for our planet,” says Amy. “In an ideal world, we would not need protected areas…but human impacts are reaching increasingly further into natural areas than ever before. Appropriately planned, well-managed protected areas are critical tools for preserving natural and cultural heritage in a world facing accelerating pressures of global change,” said Amy.

In an increasingly connected world, Amy hopes that the World Parks Congress will generate new knowledge, collaborations and motivations that will meet emerging challenges in protected areas throughout the world.

To find out more or book a World Parks Congress Field Trip click here.


Governments of Bermuda, the Azores, Monaco, United Kingdom and the United States have signed a declaration committing to the conservation of the Sargasso Sea – a vast patch of mid-Atlantic Ocean known for its unique floating seaweeds that harbour rich biodiversity. This is the first time an international alliance has been formed to protect this unique haven of marine life including some 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoise.

Commitments like this one are a key part of global efforts to meet the target of conserving 10% of the ocean by 2020, up from almost 3% we have today. Progress towards this target will be discussed at the Congress.

To find out more about our marine cross cutting theme go to:


The World Parks Congress only happens once a decade and brings together some of the most pre-eminent minds involved in protected areas, so you’d be crazy not to host a side event and make the most of this opportunity!

Applications to host a side event must be received by the World Parks Congress organising committee by May 12. If your application is successful, you must register for the Congress before your venue can be confirmed and arrangements made for equipment, catering etc.

To find out more information, take a look at the Side events details on our website.


Image Credit: Catlin Seaview Survey

Ever wondered what lies beneath the surface? The Catlin Seaview Survey, has partnered with the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) to carry out a scientific survey of the world famous Sydney harbour and surrounding coastline.

Using its revolutionary 360-degree panoramic SVII camera, the survey work will provide a view of Sydney like never before and be published on Google Street View so everyone can explore the harbour city in a ‘virtual diving’ experience.

However, the main purpose of the survey is not just to reveal what lies beneath the surface, but to create a scientific baseline record of the marine environment that can be used to accurately monitor change over time.

World Parks Congress participants will be amongst the first in the world to get a look at this amazing footage before anyone else, with the underwater street view imagery launched at the Congress.


As we write this, many of the Congress Stream Leaders are wrapping up the meeting in Cuernavaca, Mexico, an opportunity to put faces to names and collaborate as we build the Congress programme. Just because you weren’t in Mexico, it doesn’t mean you can’t get to know some of the Stream Leaders a little better!

In this edition we meet, Professor Marc Hockings from the “Reaching Conservation Goals” stream.

How did you come to be involved with Protected Areas?
I started as a seasonal ranger during university vacations and after studying zoology joined the Queensland National Park and Wildlife Service where I worked for 16 years before returning to university where I am now Professor of Environmental Management. It was my early experiences as a seasonal ranger that ignited a life-long commitment to the protected area ideal.

Why are you passionate about Protected Areas?
Protected areas are not only inspiring and rejuvenating places, but they are also our best hope to respond to many of the environmental challenges that we face as a planet.

Why is your stream important?
We have witnessed extraordinary efforts in establishing protected areas around the globe – a truly remarkable achievement. The stream will assess and celebrate progress, analyse gaps, and recommend additional actions towards the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11, the most ambitious commitment to Reaching Conservation Goals for protected areas ever made.

Why did you want to be a Stream Leader for the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014?
I have been actively involved with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas for nearly 20 years, most recently as Vice-Chair for Science. I led the Management Effectiveness stream at the Vth Congress in Durban and witnessed, first hand, how the Congress discussions can energise and build collaboration and action to benefit protected areas.

What do you hope the IUCN World Parks Congress achieves?
I believe that protected areas are critical for the well-being of this planet and its people. We have invested so much in establishing the global protected area system and it is already achieving much but we need a step-change in these efforts and in the management of parks if we are to reap the full benefits form this work. I hope the Sydney World Parks Congress will be the catalyst of this step-change.

What’s been your most memorable experience within a Protected Area?
Spending about an hour with a group of mountain gorillas in Bwindi National Park in Uganda after a gruelling 12 hour hike through the forest – a truly unforgettable experience and a great way to start what was to be a 7 year project in some of the most magnificent natural World Heritage sites in the world.


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General enquiries
WPC 2014 Secretariat
ICMS Australasia
GPO Box 3270
Sydney NSW 2001

Ph: +61 2 9254 5000
Fax: +61 2 9251 3552

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