Hawaii Receives U.S. Government Support on Bid for 2016 World Conservation Congress

Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced today that the state has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of State to support Hawaii’s efforts to bring the world’s largest global conservation meeting to Hawaii in 2016.

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The U.S. Department of the State has issued a letter to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in support of the State of Hawaii’s bid to host the 2016 World Conservation Congress (WCC). Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy sent the letter to IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre expressing the U.S. Government’s confidence that Hawaii has the necessary resources in place to secure the event.

“Hosting this event in 2016 would be a tremendous honor for the state,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “The World Conservation Congress brings people together from around the globe to discuss the world’s most pressing conservation issues. This represents a unique opportunity to position Hawaii as a world leader in addressing and solving the environmental issues of today and formulating strategies to mitigate those of the future.”

William J. Aila, Jr., chair of the Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) further emphasized: “The State of Hawaii is ideally positioned to bring together nations of Asia, the Pacific, and global conservation partners, to facilitate cutting-edge discussions and agreements on biodiversity, climate change, species conservation, and cultural integration.”

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,200 government and NGO member organizations, and nearly 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries. The last WCC was held in Sept 2012 in Jeju, Republic of Korea.

The WCC attracts nearly 10,000 delegates from more than 160 countries and is considered the foremost venue for setting a global agenda for the conservation of nature and culture. Top government officials, leaders of the business community, conservation organizations, and academics meet for 10 days to deliberate on pressing global issues including energy security, food security, invasive species, climate change, and impacts to marine systems.

The Governor is thankful for the early work of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye and former Sen. Daniel Akaka in supporting Hawaii’s initiative to prepare a bid to host the WCC. The Governor also acknowledges the leadership shown by Hawaii’s congressional delegation, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and many Hawaii organizations that support the initiative, as well the support from the U.S. Department of State.

Hosting the WCC will result in major economic benefits to the state of nearly $50 million in visitor spending and tax revenue. Costs to host the WCC will obtained from a creative blend of state, private, and corporate funding. Hawaii will be competing against Istanbul, Turkey to host the event.

“For the hundreds of individuals who have dedicated their time and efforts, having the U.S. Government support our efforts is very rewarding,” said Chipper Wichman, chair of the IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden. “While we have to overcome some very strong competition from Istanbul in order to host the 2016 WCC, we have a strong national network of supporters in place who believe Hawaii is the ideal location for the world to convene to discuss global conservation issues. Hawaii is a leader in bio-cultural conservation and with some of the rarest species on earth and a vibrant host culture we offer the world a unique venue,”

The state has been actively working on this for the past five years in collaboration with leaders from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Hawaii Tourism Authority, the University of Hawaii, Bishop Museum, and many others.

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