Marina Silva awarded Honorary Membership of the IUCN
Held every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which this time is being held from 6 to 15 September, brings together governments, scientists, business, community leaders, and representatives of Indigenous Peoples and non-governmental organizations from around the world to look at how nature provides the solution to many of our problems.
On September 11, in Jeju, Marina Silva, Brazilian environmentalist and former senator, was awarded an IUCN Honorary Membership for her inspiring contribution to nature conservation.
Claudio Maretti, Brazilian member of IUCN Global Council and WWF Living Amazon Initiative leader, received the award on her behalf and read Ms. Silva´s message.
A life devoted to Nature
All her life, Marina Silva has been at the forefront in defence of the environment, tropical forests, local communities and sustainable development. Born in a rural rubber tapper community, she intensely engaged with the Forest Peoples Movement that brought to light the fierce land struggle in course in the Amazon and the consequent risks for local communities and forests, and started to raise Brazilian society’s awareness about the serious deforestation problem. The movement also proposed the concept of Extractive Reserves, and promoted what is now known as the IUCN protected areas category VI. In her political career, she went on to become a Federal Senator and, for more than six years, was Brazil’s Minister of the Environment.
During the time Marina Silva was in office as minister, she developed the Action Plan for Control and Prevention of Amazon Deforestation. This has been a landmark in the way deforestation in the Amazon has been treated in the Brazil. The plan created a new form of public governance to cope with deforestation.
During that period, Brazil was responsible for more than 2/3 of all the new terrestrial protected areas that were created in the world. As minister she also spearheaded the Amazon Region Protected Areas Programme (ARPA), the largest in situ biodiversity conservation initiative in the world - which aims to protect 60 million hectares in protected areas.
Marina Silva’s message to the IUCN Family at its World Conservation Congress
It is a great pleasure to me to be offered the chance to become an honorary member of the IUCN, a pioneering organisation distinguished by its avant-garde and increasingly necessary vision regarding both the protection of natural resources and our fabulous, but so threatened, global biodiversity, since 1948.
I understand this invitation as a broad recognition of the historical socio-environmental work that has being done by all the women and men in Brazil and Latin America, many of them members of traditional communities that inhabit the Amazon and other biomes and anonymous environmentalists, besides our environmental NGOs, opinion makers and the scientific community.
We live in difficult times, as the global perspectives on nature conservation are really not encouraging. Along with the severity of climate crisis and ecosystems degradation, there has been an increasing and perceived tendency to set back the environmental governance in recent decades, both in Brazil and other countries.
Besides this environmental crisis, we also live in a deep global economic and social crisis, whose most dramatic indicator is that 2 billion people live in absolute poverty.
I believe all those specific crises, together, are part of a greater one, related to our civilization itself, and its bottom line is a crisis of values that generates all the others. It pulls apart economy from ecology, ethics from politics, and growth from equity.
But we need to keep believing in people. People that have been building IUCN, from its beginning so many years ago, all through those very challenging decades, and anonymous people from the forests, coastal areas, streets in cities, that struggle to live the real ecological economics, the invaluable ethical politics, and solidarity. We need, above all, to spread the values of sustainability among the younger generations, so that the culture of sustainability becomes a strong legacy for the future of our planet.
I feel that the present highly important World Conservation Congress importance, is in keeping with the importance of previous IUCN events and, indeed, is actually exceeding our high expectations.
Thank you. We hope to see you all soon, in Latin America, in Brazil, in the Amazon.