France and IUCN to Cooperate on Ecosystem Conservation

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 23, 2005 (ENS) Ė France and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) have increased their worldwide cooperation in conservation through the signing of a four year multi-million euro framework agreement. The signing ceremony took place Tuesday at the French permanent mission to the United Nations in Chambesy, Switzerland.

"This agreement will give France the opportunity to help shape the conservation strategies of the biggest international organization working on the sustainable management of natural resources," said the French Minister Nelly Olin, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development. It also strengthens the position of francophone organizations and experts in the IUCN networks."

"France and the Union share the fundamental conviction that conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources are key to life on Earth, and that these are essential for the fight against poverty," said the French Minister Brigitte Girardin, minister for cooperation and development.

Through this agreement, IUCN will increase its conservation activities in the francophone regions of the world, upon which French development assistance is focused, she said.

The Framework Agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Development, and the World Conservation Union will cover the period from 2005 to 2008 and provide support to a shared program of work totalling Ä 8.3 million.


At the signing ceremony in Chambsey, Bernard Kessedjian, ambassador and permanent representative of France at the United Nations in Geneva, stands watching the IUCN's Achim Steiner sign the framework agreement. (Photo courtesy IUCN)
"IUCNís history began at Fontainebleau in France in 1948. Today we open a new chapter in our longstanding partnership," said Achim Steiner, IUCN director general.

"Throughout the past 57 years France has supported the Union in many conservation projects and activities," he said "In becoming IUCNís seventh framework donor, France has underlined its commitment to the unique role that the Union has come to play in the global conservation community."

French support will strengthen IUCN links with francophone networks and institutions, said Steiner.

The cooperative relationship will broaden IUCN activities in environmental capacity building and governance in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean, and increase IUCN efforts to make European and global policies more environmentally friendly, Steiner said.

The agreement consists of a voluntary contribution of the French government to the work of the IUCN, as well as specific funding allocations to strengthen the nongovernmental organization's work to support the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements such as the Convention on Migratory Species and Wild Animals, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The French government also pledged to support the development of the IUCN biodiversity conservation programs in French Polynesia, the Caribbean and the European Overseas Territories.


An endangered wild Western lowland gorilla in the Congo Basin. (Photo by Richard Parnell courtesy WCS)
The French government agreed to develop IUCNís presence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and take steps to prevent illegal trade in endangered species in the Congo basin, and to increase IUCNís activities on African protected areas and the wellbeing of local communities.

Work will also involve facilitating the participation of French speaking experts from developing countries in projects and technical meetings.

Finally, the French government will loan seven senior experts to a number of IUCN programs around the world, including offices in Brussels, Kinshasa, Suva and the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland.

The IUCN brings together 82 states, 111 government agencies, more than 800 nongovernmental organizations, and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. Multicultural and multilingual, the IUCN has 1,000 staff located in 62 countries focused on conserving the integrity and diversity of nature.

At the signing ceremony, Steiner said, "With this partnership, France and IUCN commit to work together on the management of natural resources which will help conserve biodiversity, restore ecosystem services and fight poverty in the world."

Ambassador and Permanent Representative of France at the United Nations in Geneva, Bernard Kessedjian, said at the ceremony, "The French Constitution integrates from now on a Charter of the environment, after human rights and of the citizen of 1789, and the economic and social rights of 1946. The principles of repair or precaution are now rooted in constitutionality, which will revolutionize our right to environmental protection."