Dr Hilde Eggermont, coordinator of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform, was elected to the global council of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for the next four years
The elections took place during the IUCN World Conservation Congress, held from 1st to 10th September 2016 in the island archipelago of Hawai‘i. Held every four years, the Congress helps to shape direction for the world’s nature conservation and sustainable development. This edition brought together more than 8,000 participants and hosted more than 1,500 conservation presentations, workshops, and posters.
The Council is the principal governing body of IUCN in between the sessions of the World Conservation Congress. Its main role is to set strategic direction and policy guidance to the work of the Union, fulfil its responsibilities towards its members, and help to communicate on IUCN’s objectives and results to the world community.
Hilde Eggermont is scientist by training (Doctor in Biology), and her current activities at the Belgian Biodiversity Platform largely focus on bridging the gap between science and policy. Dr Eggermont feels honoured to have been elected as IUCN Councillor, both by the governments and numerous non-governmental organisations. Her ambitions are to prioritize conservation in the policy agenda by increasing the impact of scientific research and by involving society at large, including young people.
Dr Eggermont stated that there are ways to go forward to tackle the current global issues: “The ecosystems that underpin our economies, well-being and survival are collapsing. Species are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates. Our climate is in crisis. I believe that scientific knowledge and stakeholder engagement are pivotal to turn the tide, to conserve nature, and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Dr Hilde Eggermont, elected as IUCN Regional Councillor for West-Europe
Hilde Eggermont added that IUCN plays a key role across many sectors: “Based on my science-policy interfacing experience, I aim to raise the impact of IUCN’s work – making sure its voice is more effectively heard and taken up by decision makers. Getting biodiversity concerns into the policy and plans of government ministries, private sector companies and development cooperation is a goal that will take many years to achieve. Yet, I believe that IUCN has the leverage to mobilize the right actors and better integrate biodiversity across sectors. IUCN is needed more than ever!”
Dr Eggermont also hopes that this position will enable her to raise further attention for biodiversity issues in the West Europe region and in Belgium: “Despite the alarming signals that nature is sending us, governments are still ignoring the fact that they are depleting the planet at an unprecedented speed. They still prefer to invest in unsustainable technological solutions, and ignore the power of nature in tackling the many societal challenges ahead”
Besides the elections, several key decisions were made during the Congress such as the closure of domestic markets for elephant ivory, the urgency of protecting the high seas, the need to protect primary forests, and no-go areas for industrial activities within protected areas. It also put new issues on the global sustainability agenda, including the importance of linking spirituality, religion, culture and conservation, and the need to implement nature-based solutions – actions that protect and manage ecosystems, while effectively addressing societal challenges, such as food and water security, climate change, disaster risk reduction, human health and economic well-being.
For more information, please contact Dr Hilde Eggermont, Coordinator of the Belgian Biodiversity Platform: firstname.lastname@example.org