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U.S. Hosts Briefing by IUCN DG Marton-Lefrevre on World Conservation Congress
September 28, 2012

Remarks by Betty E. King
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva

At the Briefing by IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre
On the Outcome of the recent World Conservation Congress

Hosted at the U.S. Mission, Geneva,
Friday, September 28, 2012

Good afternoon.  I’m delighted that so many of you could come today to hear my friend, Julia Marton-Lefevre, brief us on the outcome of the recent World Conservation Congress.  I’m also pleased to have Ambassador Choi here to say a few words on behalf of the Republic of Korea, the host of this year’s Congress.

UN member states take pride in the role that we play in IUCN’s work which in essence is the management of the environment and our precious natural resources.  Fifty years ago yesterday, Rachel Carson, a conservation writer and former employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, published the book Silent Spring.  Silent Spring, a carefully reasoned and elegantly written attack on the indiscriminate use of pesticides was not exactly light reading.  Yet it made a powerful case for an enlightened stewardship of our environment that captured the public’s attention and galvanized support for a grass roots environmental movement.  As such, Miss Carson’s book played a critical role in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passage of seminal legislation such as the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts in the United States.

Since its inception, IUCN has been a leader in efforts aimed at conserving our environment both then and now.

Founded in 1948, IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.  Its more than 1,200 member organizations include over 200 government and over 900 non-government organizations in 160 countries along with thousands of experts and  partners in the public, NGO and private sectors throughout the world.

Conserving biodiversity is central to IUCN’s mission. It has demonstrated in many ways how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges: tackling climate change, achieving sustainable energy, improving human well-being and building a green economy.

To deliver conservation and sustainability at both the global and local level, IUCN focuses on three strategic areas:

  • First, science. IUCN’s 11,000 voluntary experts set global standards in their fields. For example, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the definitive international standard for species extinction risk.
  • Second, action. The Union undertakes hundreds of conservation projects. These projects are aimed at the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources and range from the local level to those involving several countries.
  • Third, influence. IUCN helps shape international environmental conventions, policies, and laws through the collective strength of its government and non-governmental Member organizations.

The United States is proud of its association with the IUCN. There are 91 IUCN members in the United States, including the Department of State and six other U.S. Government agencies and over 50 non-governmental organizations. We look forward to continuing that relationship for many years to come.  Today I look forward to Julia’s presentation followed by a lively conversation on IUCN’s important work.

Thank you.