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June 20th, 2012
IUCN Urges Governments to do More for Nature

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Policy-makers must rethink economic growth, promote social equity and ensure environmental protection, says IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). Among the key issues are the green economy and an institutional framework in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

“Nature is still the missing link in Rio+20 discussions, yet sustainable development cannot be achieved without it,’” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General.  “Nature can and does provide solutions to development challenges such as climate change, and food, water and energy security. It is time governments included nature in development strategies.”

IUCN supports socio and economic development that places nature at its center and adopts measures that ensure justice. This includes critical issues such as decent jobs, energy, sustainable development as the answer to economic and financial crises, food security, water, oceans, and disaster readiness. Social equity and inclusiveness are overarching principles of sustainable development strategies, according to IUCN.

Rio+20 is an important opportunity to promote investments in enhancing the natural assets on which poor communities depend. For example, the value of forests and the direct benefits they currently provide to approximately 1.6 billion of the rural poor is estimated at IUCN at US $130 billion per year. This is almost the same amount of money that goes into Official Development Assistance (ODA).

“Landscape restoration will help countries meet international commitments to slow, halt and reverse forest and carbon loss and to restore degraded ecosystems. By focusing on both forest and agricultural lands it will generate income worth billions of dollars each year to national and local economies and provide food security to millions of forest-dependent people,” says Stewart Maginnis, Global Director, Nature Based Solutions Group. “This should include concerted efforts to invest in the Bonn Challenge to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded lands by 2020.”

IUCN urges governments to do more in terms of policy and institutional coherence. Understanding the interaction between nature and climate change will generate stronger policies and commitments.

“Rio+20 is the place to give a new impetus to international cooperation,” says Constanza Martinez, Senior Policy Officer, Global Policy Unit. “States, civil society organizations and the private sector are well aware of what needs to be done—there must be a commitment to working together towards the same goal: protecting nature so it can protect us. We must move towards a more resilient planet.”

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