The Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) chief executive, Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, joined over 6,000 delegates from over 170 countries, including the United Nation’s Educational and Scientific Organisations’s (Unesco) Marine World Heritage Sites managers at the IUCN World Parks Congress held in Sydney, Australia.
During the congress, Mrs Fleischer-Dogley presented the conservation success stories of Seychelles’ Unesco World Heritage sites – Aldabra Atoll and Vallée de Mai.
The congress was a landmark global forum on protected areas. It shared a great deal of knowledge and innovation, setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come.
Building on the theme ‘Parks, people, planet: inspiring solutions’, it presented, discussed and created original approaches for conservation and development, helping to address the gap in the conservation and sustainable development agenda.
When she presented Aldabra as a beacon of hope, Dr Fleischer-Dogley got good applause from the audience even before the talk ended. This was due to the remarkable resilience and recovery of the atoll resulting from strict protection for the last 50 years.
“Attending the World Parks Congress where we can share our experiences and can learn from others made me realise that for many of our challenges, such as climate change, poaching and invasive species, the solutions already exist; it is just a case of finding it. Often the sharing of your own experience brings you nearer to the long sought solution,” said Dr Fleischer-Dogley.
Aldabra also featured in the new film on Unesco’s Marine World Heritage narrated by Gisele Bündchen, which was launched during the congress in front of a large audience of over 5000 people.
One of the major outcomes of the congress was the ‘Promise of Sydney’. This vision for the future incorporates innovative approaches to the challenges protected areas face, commitments to advancing this change and solutions that show these changes are within reach. It is constructed of four pillars – A Vision, Twelve Innovative Approaches to Change, Solutions, and Promises.
The World Parks Congress provided a perfect platform for delegates to network. All agreed that now the time has come to follow up on many fruitful opportunities, not only for the two World Heritage sites but all protected areas in Seychelles.