23 Jan 2020

Venue: Palais des Nations | Room XII

Organization: Geneva Environment Network

The IUCN World Conservation Congress, held every four years, will be hosted by France in Marseille on 11-19 June 2020. This major event is dedicated to knowledge-sharing in the fields of science, policy-making and practices on nature conservation and sustainable development. The theme of the Congress, "One Nature, One Future", underlines the importance of a healthy natural world as a prerequisite for achieving the vision of a just and sustainable planet.

About this Session

The Permanent Mission of France in Geneva and the IUCN jointly organized this information meeting, with the support of the Geneva Environment Network, to provide an update on the preparation for the IUCN World Conservation Congress, presenting its structure and highlights, and to discuss the objectives of the Congress and its expected impacts on the major deadlines of the year 2020 in terms of biodiversity and beyond environmental diplomacy.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 in Marseille should enable a broad mobilization of all stakeholders, oriented towards action, through the consolidation and emergence of ambitious and profoundly transformational initiatives for nature conservation.

An essential step in a crucial 2020 year for biodiversity, the IUCN Congress in Marseille precedes by a few months the COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which will be held in October in Kunming, China, and which will adopt a new global strategic framework for biodiversity for the period 2020-2030.

Beyond the path towards an ambitious agreement at COP 15 in Kunming, the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille is also a milestone for global climate and environmental diplomacy and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.

Around 10,000 congress participants are expected in Marseille to exchange, debate and decide on nature’s most pressing topics. In addition, around 100,000 visitors are expected in the public exhibition areas.


Opening and Welcome by
H.E. Amb. François RIVASSEAU, French Ambassador to the UN in Switzerland

Presentation of the IUCN and the IUCN World Conservation Congress
Grethel AGUILAR, Acting Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

What is the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
The impacts of the IUCN World Conservation Congress
The 7 themes of 2020’s Congress

Structure and highlights of the IUCN 2020 Marseille Congress
Enrique LAHMANN, Global Director, Union Development Group, IUCN
Lionel FABRE, Secrétaire-général adjoint, Secrétariat général aux grand événements internationaux Biodiversité, Ministère de la transition écologique et solidaire, France

Information about :

  • The place  – « Parc Chanot »  and Marseille (map, places etc…)
  • The different sequences/events and spaces
    • Opening ceremonies on 11th of June and closing ceremonies on the 19th
    • The Forum from June the 12th to the 15th
    • The Members’ Assembly from June the 16th to the 19th
  • The nature generation areas
  • The Exhibition
  •  Thematic summits and other high-level events

IUCN Congress 2020, an essential step in the 2020 year of biodiversity and sustainable development

Objectives and stakes of the World Congress
H.E. Amb. Yann Wehrling, France’s Ambassador for the Environment, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Biodiversity and climate for COP 26, in Glasgow
H.E. Amb. Miriam SHEARMAN, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN

Q&A sessions

Closing speech by H.E. Amb. François Rivasseau
Presentation and information materials will be made available to participants at the reception


H.E. Amb. François Rivasseau, French Ambassador to the UN in Switzerland

  • The largest world congress on nature and biodiversity
  • 2020 will be a key year for the preservation of biodiversity (marine and land) and of climate
  • 80% of the SDGs are linked with biodiversity preservation and their achievement is a consequence of biodiversity preservation
  • “Jamais la nature ne nous trompe, c’est nous que nous nous trompons” – J. J. Rousseau

Grethel Aguilar, Acting Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

  • 70 years of history of IUCN, largest and most diverse environmental network
  • 2020 is a critical year for the peoples and the planet – we must commit to more ambitious goals to safeguard a planet that provides for humanity
  • If we get biodiversity right, we have the chance of putting the world on the right track to achieve the SDGs
  • Set on a course that makes economic and social development compatible with nature conservation
  • 7 themes: managing landscapes, restoring oceans health, conserving freshwater, accelerating climate mitigation and adaptation, upholding rights and ensuring equitable governance, leveraging economic and financial systems and advancing knowledge, learning, innovation and technology

H. E. Amb. Walter Stevens, Ambassador of the European Union Mission to the UN in Geneva

  • The fight against climate change and the promotion of nature protection and restoration is a top priority of the EU
  • Working on a European Green “New Deal” as well as a Biodiversity Strategy for 2030
  • IUCN Congress is well-timed because it comes before the CBD COP15
  • IUCN Congress showcases the practical ways to protect biodiversity

H.E. Amb. Yann Wehrling, France’s Ambassador for the Environment, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

  • Key event for 2020 and for the coming decade
  • Important congress in the process of the new framework for biodiversity
  • 2019 IPBES Meeting in Paris – report and summary for policy-makers is for biodiversity like what COP21 was for climate change
  • Around 60% of the wildlife disappeared in 40 last years – need for international community’s action on this emergency
  • 2020 calendar: IUCN World Congress comes before COP15 as well as the Nature Summit and COP26
  • IUCN comes at a moment where we have a clear view of the discussions at the international level and before the last round of discussions
  • We have to determine if in 2030 we want to have regeneration of biodiversity or not
  • Aiming for no endangered species in 2030, for 30% of the planet to be protected, for enhanced restoration of degraded land and marine environments
  • Preserved biodiversity is beneficial to the population, especially in developing countries
  • Indigenous peoples can teach us a lot related to the way to regard nature and biodiversity
  • Finance will be debated this year to provide funding to the protection of biodiversity
  • We need more linkage between climate and biodiversity: nature-based solutions can contribute to more than 30% of CO2 emissions’ mitigation as well as to the restoration of biodiversity

H.E. Amb. Miriam Shearman, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN

  • 2020 is a critical year for climate action
  • Many stocktaking and goal-setting international events
  • Each event is a milestone in preparation of COP26
  • Joint approach to biodiversity and climate change with a focus on nature-based solutions
  • IUCN Congress will provide a key opportunity to achieve our ambitions
  • Biodiversity is in crisis: as we destroy the world’s forests, we drive ever more species to extinction, we erode nature’s ability to cope with climate change and we undermine the livelihood of millions of people
  • COP26 as a milestone for ambitions: cleaner energy, more resilient future, flourishing nature, greener financial systems



The event was live on Facebook.


Photos © UNEP/GEN, Malou Lenoir