May Nachum

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

Aloha IUCN Members:

Every IUCN supporter and member shares at least one thing in common, a fascination for nature and a calling to conserve it, and for that reason I ask you to support Motion 003 in the process of ensuring it maintains the original intent to create a Climate Crisis Commission at the 2021 World Conservation Congress. My name is May Nachum, and I am one of many drowning voices. I will likely not be able to attend the Congress in person to share my perspective on the importance of the establishment of this commission, I will not be able to exercise my vote as a representative of a member organization of the IUCN, and so I request, with the greatest sense of urgency, that you vote in favor of Motion 003 on behalf of the organization you represent.

The rapid increase in climate change is already showing its effects and within my lifetime, the consequences will change the quality of life on any point of the circumference of our joint planet. The gas line is no longer just pumping out gas, a spark caught on and the house is on fire, but it has not burned down completely yet. We still have time to grab an extinguisher and find solutions to the flames. I believe that Motion 003, to establish a Climate Crisis Commission, is the first act in grabbing the extinguisher. There has been no official declaration by the IUCN as a whole that the existential threat to the survival of future generations is posed by present levels of greenhouse gas emissions, directly linked to fossil fuels and animal agriculture. And it is beyond debate that as a result of those industries, the threshold points of life sustaining ecosystems are now upon us -- the General Assembly, comprised of over 1,400 member organizations.

Motion 003, in its original post-comment form (in line with mutatis mutandis,) recognized the failure to meaningfully address the issues of climate change through task forces, calling for the need to establish a seventh commission. Unfortunately, there are some who sought to prevent the passage of Motion 003, by introducing altering language that ultimately is preventing IUCN members from exercising their right to vote on the motion reflecting its original purpose at the Congress. The proposed amendments have gutted the motion, and replaced it with another task force. Aside from the nondemocratic approach to amending a motion past the comment period, recreating a task force would lead to two possible realities: the first, the motion is trashed for repeating past motions that created the last climate task force; the second, another climate task force is created to recite prior findings that climate change is a problem. Notable to mention that Motion 003 was developed as a result of the 2016 Climate Task Force report in 2019 that more needs to be done on the global scale to address the climate crisis and its region specific affects. A task force can not do more than highlight an issue, a commission would allow members to tackle the issues already identified by the past task force and leading climate scientists. But the biggest threat to our voices is the opposition to this motion.

The IUCN has 6 Commissions, and climate change is discussed in the conversation of the issues each commission is tackling. But, climate change is not a secondary threat to the other issues our shared planet faces, it is the primary threat to life on Earth, and it needs a cross-disciplinary solution. We don’t need only lawyers figuring this out. We don’t need only scientists figuring this out. We need an interdisciplinary commission composed of lawyers, scientists, judges, and scholars to come together address the issue we know exists and find the solutions we need, before it is too late, before our voices drown.

I would like to take a minute to introduce myself, and explain where my sense of urgency is coming from. I am a “Dreamer,” that is not only my theoretical identity, but my legal identity as a temporary alien status under the Deferred Action for Childhood for Childhood Arrivals. I immigrated to Los Angeles, California at the age of seven, and at age fifteen I was granted a temporary status for children that immigrated to the US which allows us to study and work within the borders of this country, but if we leave, we can’t come back, which is why I must give up my in-person vote at this upcoming Congress in Marseilles. I emigrated from Israel at the age of five to Calgary, Alberta. And at age seventeen, I moved to the Hawaiian Archipelago, where I now reside. I view myself as a citizen of the World, but a proud resident of the Hawaiian Islands.

In 2016, I attended the IUCN Congress hosted in Honolulu, Hawaii as an observing undergraduate student. I was so moved and inspired by the conversations being had, that I pursued law school in hopes to contribute to this discussion, the discussion of protecting the natural world. I dream of a future where clean air and water flow from mountain top to mountain top, with all of humanity and our nonhuman critters can flourish rather than race against the clock of extinction. But in today’s reality, that future is not guaranteed. During my time in law school I have been fortunate enough to work for the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and take a course on the IUCN motions process -- where I drafted and submitted motions for the 2020 congress. During my last semester I established Our

Drowning Voices as a result of my externship at the Hawaii Supreme Court where I was connected with the proponents of Motion 003 that wanted to initiate a Member’s campaign to democratically establish the seventh IUCN commission. I now find myself a graduate, through a pandemic, putting up a fight for the right to vote on a Climate Change Commission at the union that inspired me most. Although I fear the IUCN has become a sidelines gossiper of the sixth mass extinction, I stay hopeful the members will find it right to support the establishment of the commission. This is what lead to the establishment of Our Drowning Voices, a youth group of indomitable spirits ready to enforce the IUCN’s duty of care to us as members and to nature.

This existential threat will not go away over night, or on its own, we need to act fast, voting in favor of amending Motion 003 to reflect its initial purpose is only the first step, but it is a step in the direction of the future I dream of, it is a step in the direction to ensure our voices don’t drown.

“Never give up – there is always a way forward. Never lose hope. For if we lose hope, we fall into apathy and do nothing.” - Jane Goodall

May Nachum

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