South Africa's Valli Moosa Elected IUCN President

BANGKOK, Thailand, November 24, 2004 (ENS) - Mohammed Valli Moosa of South Africa today was elected president of IUCN – The World Conservation Union, one of the most respected positions in the conservation movement. A former South African environment minister, Moosa will spend the next four years directing the affairs of the IUCN - a partnership of 81 governments, 114 government agencies, more than 800 NGOs, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries.

“Nature conservation is everybody’s business," said the president-elect at the IUCN 3rd World Conservation Congress in Bangkok. "We will succeed if we continue to broaden our scope and involve more people. I would like each and every individual to be more conscious of nature conservation - we must imbue it in our practices and personalities."

Moosa replaces outgoing IUCN President Yolanda Kakabadse of Ecuador.


Mohammed Valli Moosa told IUCN delegates that building conservation consensus nationally is key to international success. (Photo courtesy IISD)
Born in 1957 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Moosa holds a 1978 degree from the University of Durban-Westville in math and physics.

As an anti-apartheid activist, he fought passionately for democracy and freedom. First detained in 1980, during the education boycotts, in 1988 Moosa served 14 months in detention before escaping with two compatriots. They sought refuge in the U.S. Consulate in Johannesburg, a move planned to bring worldwide attention through the media to the plight of detainees in South Africa.

Moosa was detained again in 1989, and after his release was placed under house arrest. During the State of Emergency, says Moosa, when he was not in detention or in solitary confinement, he was on the run from the security police.

He was a founding member of the United Democratic Front, an organization he says "marked the beginning of the end of apartheid" in South Africa. In 1991 became a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC).

As part of the ANC's constitutional team, he participated in the drafting of South Africa's democratic constitution.

He was elected to parliament in 1994 and served as minister of constitutional development under President Nelson Mandela. From 1999 until earlier the year, he served as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.


The South African delegation hosted a reception to celebrate Moosa's election as IUCN president. (Photo courtesy IISD)
He has served on the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and attracted international attention through his competent mediation at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban. Both gatherings were held in South Africa due to his initiative and effort, the IUCN said.

Upcoming issues include relations between the conservation and business communities, and the links between conservation and poverty reduction.

In discussions during three days of workshops here at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress, participants concluded that it is essential to address the needs of rural populations living in degraded landscapes by creating effective governance structures based on traditional institutions that reflect local knowledge and expertise.

The IUCN Members Business Assembly also elected Sven Sandstrom of Sweden treasurer, and chose the six chairs of its scientific commissions, and 24 regional councillors. Together with the president, these conservationists make up the Union’s governing body.

The six Commissions of IUCN have a total membership of over 10,000 scientists from a variety of disciplines. Their leaders are in charge of ensuring that these expert networks gather, synthesize and distribute the latest knowledge and information for use in conservation work.


Elephant and rhino specialist Dr. Holly Dublin of the United States will chair the Species Survival Commission. (Photo courtesy IUCN)
For the first time in its history, the organization has achieved and equal gender balance in its commission chairs.

The Species Survival Commission (SSC) will be chaired by Dr. Holly Dublin of the United States, who has served for 12 years as chair of the IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group. She has supervised WWF's African Rhino Program, recognized as the world's largest single species conservation program.

The World Commission on Protected Areas will be chaired by Nikita Lopoukhine of Canada. In his capacity as Director General of Parks Canada, Lopoukhine shapes policy, legislation and planning for all of Canada’s national terrestrial and marine protected areas. He is fluent in English, French and Russian.


Dr. Taghi Farvar specializes in environmental sciences and sustainable development. (Photo courtesy IUCN )
The Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy will be chaired by Dr. Taghi Farvar of Iran, who serves as chair of his country's Centre for Sustainable Development. Farvar has over 30 years of experience in the policy and practice of the conservation of natural resources. He is a long time advocate of the rights of local communities, mobile peoples and indigenous peoples.

The Commission on Environmental Law will be chaired by Sheila Abed of Paraguay. A lawyer, she serves as executive director of the nongovernmental organization IDEA, Instituto de Derecho y Economía Ambiental, and has been a member of the IUCN Commission she will now lead.


Denise Hamu of Brazil. Hamu works to bring public concern to bear on deforestation of the Amazon rainforest. (Photo courtesy IUCN)
The Commission on Education and Communication again will be chaired by Denise Hamú of Brazil, who serves as chief executive officer of WWF Brazil. She has chaired this Commission since 2000.

The Commission on Ecosystem Management will be chaired by Dr. Hillary Masundire of Zimbabwe. A professor and researcher at the University of Botswana, Dr. Masundire has participated in international initiatives such as the World Commission on Dams, the Water and Nature Initiative, UNEP Global International Waters Assessment, and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.