Why a commission? Stub

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

IUCN will likely cease to exist within forty years when the earth heats to two degrees. The damage to life sustaining ecosystems and extreme weather events will create chaos and instability that will make impossible the attainment of IUCN’s mission to protect nature. A fourth task force on climate change will be a useless distraction from the need to take action within the next seven years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and place us on a path to carbon neutrality within the fifty years. A climate crisis commission will organize IUCN to protect nature from the ravages of climate change.

IUCN already contributes to the global climate change discussion in many ways. Many IUCN members believe that IUCN should increase its involvement in climate change issues. The facilitator for the discussion of Motion 003 noted that, “It is clear that there is a consensus about the urgency and importance of IUCN reinforcing its action in relation to climate change.”

During the comment period for Motion 003, IUCN members suggested several alternative organizational vehicles through which IUCN could engage with climate change. Our Drowning Voices believes that none of these alternatives provide focus and resources commensurate to the size of the problem. Some of the specific proposed alternatives included:

  • IUCN Secretariat: The Secretariat is too small to facilitate coordinated climate action at IUCN.

  • Task Force: IUCN has had three previous climate change task forces. These have repeatedly highlighted the importance of climate change, but they are too ad-hoc to take any serious action.

  • Specialist Groups within other commissions: Although each IUCN commission has contributions of expertise to make to climate change issues, they each have their own mandates which focus on other important conservation issues. Their specialist groups are each too focused and specific to make the necessary cross-cutting collaboration possible.

  • Rely on UNFCCC as the forum for an international response to climate change: Climate change is an “all hands on deck” problem. IUCN must focus and find the ways that we can contribute. For example, UNFCCC cannot bring the same expertise to the table on Nature-based Solutions that IUCN can.

We disagree with some of our fellow IUCN members who argue that a brand-new Climate Change commission is not the right vehicle for IUCN to engage with the climate issue. They claim that creating a commission would place climate change in a silo divorced from the work of the other commissions. We agree that climate change is a cross-cutting issue that requires collaboration. However, so are species survival, ecosystem management, protected areas, and economic, environmental, and social policy. Did the need for holistic solutions stop us from creating the Species Survival Commission, the Commission on Ecosystem Management, the World Commission on Protected Areas, or the Commission on Economic Environmental, and Social Policy, for example? Do we regret forming those commissions because they foster focused effort on important issues? No indeed!

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