Franska Institutet är mycket glada över att ha kunnat sponsra FINA-pristagaren Justine Ramages studieresa till IUCN:s världskongress i Marseille (The IUCN World Conservation Congress) i september 2021. FINA-priset (French Institute Nordic Award) lanserades av de franska instituten i de fem nordiska länderna (Danmark, Sverige, Norge, Finland och Island) år 2020. Målet med detta pris är att främja kulturellt och vetenskapligt samarbete mellan Frankrike och de nordiska länderna samt belöna anmärkningsvärda prestationer på området.

Ta del av Justine Ramage’ reseberättelse från kongressen här nedan: 

  • Friday, September 3rd

Opening Ceremony
I made it to Marseille under the rain! And on time for the Opening Ceremony.

From the ceremony, I want to remember the words from the UNESCO President, Audrey Azoulay who emphasized that our effort for Nature should focus on three major points:

  • Protection: We need to protect at least 20% of our Planet
  • Education: the change will come through educating citizen
  • Research, science and its communication

Only VIPs were allowed inside the main building where the ceremony was held. I was therefore sitting in a room where the ceremony was lived-streamed.

  • Saturday, September 4th

Forum Opening
“We need to take action, quickly and urgently”, this sentence that Bruno Oberle, General director of the IUCN, pronounced at the forum opening came back in most of the panel discussions I participated to. 

Solidarity and alliance between, scientists, indigenous people, states, NGOs need to be strengthened.

Climate change and biodiversity interlinkages: From science-policy assessments to action
As a researcher working on understanding the impacts of climate change on landscapes and people, this session was crucial for me. Linking climate and biodiversity is necessary yet often overlooked. This session emphasized the links between both, and highlighted how actions on biodiversity can impact the climate and the way around.

Holistic ways of dealing with these issues was highlighted by the new concept of shared spaces.

Documentary screening: “Animal” by Cyril Dion and discussion with the director
This was a very inspiring movie that follows two young climate activists through a travel to meet people who act for the planet. The documentary is touching and gives a very important lesson: protesting is important but one can only change things by doing. I was especially touch by the words by the economist Elois Laurent.

This documentary raised my awareness on education and how it is the major tool that we have to create large shifts in our societies. 

  • Sunday, September 5th

Today most of the session I wanted to participate were online only. 

I took part in most sessions related to indigenous knowledge, from the discussion on “Why are Indigenous People Essential for Viable Conservation Strategies” to the report from the Indigenous People summit. It was such a pleasure to see that Indigenous people and minorities had a voice at the IUCN. I hope their vision will be adopted by our politicians to adapt climate change.

Since the congress is also online and because of the sanitary measures that prevented many people to come to the congress, there are not as many participants as expected on site. This gave me the opportunity to meet some of our politicians such as Laurent Fabius (president of the French Constitutional Council), and Johanna Lissinger-Peitz, senior advisor at Regeringskansliet in Stockholm.

  • Monday, September 6th

I had the chance to attend a “Breakfast with ..” session where young people are invited to talk to global leaders. I sat at a table where Julia Marton-Lefevre, former president of IUCN, listened to our thoughts and ideas on how to tackle the biodiversity issue. She was very inspiring, explaining us her path to become influential in the world of biodiversity. Education was one of the main focus of the discussion. 

Then I listened to a session slightly different from others “Environmental Explorers and Adventurers: pushing the limits to inspire conservation policy and action” to listen to the way explorers help us understand the Nature we live in. I wanted to listen to Jean-Louis Etienne, one of the people who inspired me to become a polar scientist. I got to know about new expeditions and new projects lead by the six invited explorers. 

  • Tuesday, September 7th

Today I was on stage, presenting my research about the impact of permafrost thaw on ecosystem services in the Arctic. This presentation was open for everyone as part of the “Espace Generation Nature”. I was expected high school students but instead presented to a diversity of people, from entrepreneurs to retired people.  

This was also the day for several closing ceremonies. Unfortunately, many were held at the same time. I decided to join the one on “Bending the Curve for Landscapes of the Future”, that addressed key issues and solutions to move towards a brighter future for landscapes and biodiversity.

I am thankful to the French Institute which invited me to attend the IUCN congress. It was definitively a mind opening experience and very inspiring. I felt that the IUCN emphasized the strong need to act right now, that political action is urgent. I was also happy to hear about the efforts towards being inclusive towards indigenous people and other minorities such as women who are often not listened in global congresses. The congress emphasized the multiple solutions that exists and efforts that are implemented in all corners of the world. It also strengthened the need for solidarity and ways to think differently because we all live in the same place, Earth, and the consequences of our actions are affecting others.

I was very surprised that there were so few (not to say none) discussion about the Arctic biodiversity and no representation from the Arctic Council that has a large group working on biodiversity. I hope that in 4 years this part of the world will be included into the discussions on biodiversity.

Photos:
Left – Laurent Fabius (president of the French Constitutional Council) and Justine Ramage
Right –  Johanna Lissinger-Peitz, senior advisor at Regeringskansliet in Stockholm and Justine Ramage