The IUCN Director General, Inger Andersen, visited the UK in June and spoke at a reception in the House of Lords, sponsored by Baroness Parminter and organised for UK Members by the National Committee UK.
The event was a great success and provided a platform for a strong message from the DG - a call for "immediate and urgent action for the conservation of nature".
The 40 invited guests were warmly welcomed to the House of Lords by Baroness Parminter, whom I hope we can now consider as a new champion for IUCN in the UK. NCUK Chair Stuart Brooks spoke of the work of the National Committee and when the DG gave her speech she praised NCUK efforts, in particular the work of the Peatland Programme and she called the report of the Putting Nature on the Map project "a fine piece of work".
She noted the proud history of IUCN and that 19 UK member organisations were original founders of IUCN. She remarked upon the extraordinary size of the membership of the UK's environmental NGOs, a recognition of the importance of nature in British people's lives. She then announced the latest UK Member to join IUCN as being an organisation in one of our UK Overseas Territories, in Gibraltar, soon to host a major international conference of biodiversity.
Inger stressed the continued need for close collaboration in facing the challenges ahead saying "it will be heavy lifting after 2015" particularly dealing with climate change after COP21 in Paris ("21 - really? The first 20 meetings all failed then?").
Inger also paid tribute to the many IUCN Commissioners in the UK who carry out the important scientific evidence work which underpins IUCN's global position as a network of environmental experts. In response to a question on the UK's endemic horrid weaver spider, she gave assurance that the small and less charismatic species would not be forgotten.
In summary the DG urged all parties to be impatient with the pace of progress and said that focused, urgent action is required now. She also encouraged participation in the consultation process for the next 4 year programme 2017-2020 and in particular urged members to participate in the Regional Conservation Forum in Helsinki in December and the Programme's eventual implementation.