Nelson Mandela, Chico Mendes and Nature Conservation
“Nelson Mandela reminded us all how wonderful Nature is and of our great responsibility towards it. He declared that what is most important is to see it as part of the process of building a better world for humanity and pointed out how protected areas can, and must become centers for solutions to bring about just such a better, fairer and more sustainable world”, recalled Claudio Maretti, at that time regional vice president of the UICN’s World Protected Areas Committee, coordinator of the WWF-Brazil programme’s support for the Amazon Protected Areas Programme (ARPA) and one of the participants in the 4th World Parks Congress of the IUCN.
“This month of December the world has lost Mandela, but it also marks 25 years since the death of Chico Mendes. The Brazilian leader helped to propose the conservation of the forests as a means to constructing a solution to social conflict especially in the Amazon. The Extractive Reserves, which are themselves Protected Areas and which, accordingly, have nature conservation objectives, represent the kind of support for addressing social needs that Mandela was reminding us of in 2003” he declared.
“We must not forget that protected areas provide far-reaching social, economic and cultural services that include maintaining the good quality of the waters that supply the cities, and minimizing the impacts of the so-called ‘catastrophic’ climate events”, he added.
Currently heading the WWF Living Amazon Global Initiative, Claudio Maretti comments on the opportunity he had to meet and talk to Mandela in person.
“On a subsequent trip to South Africa in 2007, this time as a member of the IUCN’s World Council, I was able to meet Mandela personally and thank him for his example. Let the legacy of his example and that of Chico Mendes guide us so that we always keep nature in our minds as a solution and a means to constructing that better world he spoke of”, concluded Maretti.