The sixth IUCN World Parks Congress kicks off in Sydney today, with Australia welcoming more than 5,000 delegates from 168 different countries, including 30 international Environment Ministers and five Heads of State.
The IUCN World Parks Congress brings together people from all walks of life to identify better ways of looking after our protected areas for future generations.
I’m proud Australia is hosting this once-in-a-decade event. Over the next seven days, the world’s park rangers, protected area experts, scientists, doctors, young people, businessmen will gather to share their ideas on how we can sustain and protect the planet.
Our protected areas are huge economic and social assets. In Australia, nature-based tourism attracts around 36 million visitors, delivering more than $30 billion a year to our economy.
Parks are an intrinsic part of our way of life, delivering social and health benefits for our families and communities. Our protected areas help to deliver the clean air, clean land and clean water that help to keep Australia healthy.
Australia’s Indigenous land managers and rangers play a big role in this. By managing parks and Indigenous Protected Areas they are keeping culture and country strong, benefitting all Australians, while providing meaningful jobs and business development opportunities back to their own communities.
That’s why it’s important Australia contributes to the conversation at IUCN World Parks Congress.
The Congress will set the agenda for protected areas for the next decade – a huge mandate. Over the next seven days we’ll be tackling some of the complex problems facing our people, parks and planet.
Developing solutions to these challenges is a global business. I’ll be meeting with many world leaders and experts over the next few days, to share our ideas and make new commitments to our environment, not only here in Australia but in the Asia-Pacific region and globally.
And we’re already underway. Over the past two days I’ve joined many of my colleagues at the Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit to chart a way forward to better protect our rainforests.
We’ll be working with the region to develop a practical plan to help meet the global goal of slowing, halting and reversing forest loss by 2030. The practical work is already underway – we’ve already committed $6 million to combat illegal logging in our region.
The IUCN World Parks Congress is on at Sydney Olympic Park until Wednesday 19 November.
People can register as a delegate if they wish to attend. To encourage everyone to get involved, the Congress is also holding a special, free public festival called PlanetFest on Sunday 16 November at Cathy Freeman Park, Sydney Olympic Park.
For more on PlanetFest visit http://www.worldparkscongress.org/involved/social_planetfest.html
For more visit the IUCN World Parks Congress website at www.worldparkscongress.org