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May 21, 2014

Hawaii to Host 2016 Conservation Congress

In two years, Hawaii is set to host the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress – the world’s largest conservation event. 
“The World Conservation Congress coming to Hawaii is a big deal and will benefit our local economy," U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said in a statement, noting that this would be the first time the U.S. hosted this conference. “Since hosting APEC in 2011, we continue to show that our state is an ideal host for high-level international forums. Hawaii is the perfect location for the United States to welcome global leaders to work towards solving some of the world’s greatest conservation and energy security challenges.” 

Kaneohe Bay

In 2012, Schatz travelled to Jeju, South Korea to represent the State of Hawaii as Lieutenant Governor at the last IUCN World Conservation Congress and began the State of Hawaii's bidding process for 2016. In February, Senator Schatz joined the Hawaii congressional delegation to urge the State Department to submit a letter of interest to the IUCN for Hawaii’s 2016 bid. After the State Department responded with concerns about financial issues, Senator Schatz organized and led a bipartisan group of Senators to urge U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to reconsider. He also called senior leaders at the State Department to press Hawai‘i’s case. As a host finalist, Senator Schatz worked in collaboration with Governor Abercrombie’s office to resolve the State Department's financial concerns and finally secure the U.S. Government's support for the State of Hawai‘i's bid.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is the world’s oldest and leading global environmental organization. It includes over 1,200 member organizations, over 200 government and 900 non-government organizations.  This will be the first time the United States has been a host of the forum, since the organization’s creation in 1948.  Hosting the event will result in major economic benefits for the state, bringing in nearly $50 million in visitor spending and tax revenue according to state estimates.
As Lieutenant Governor, Schatz also helped lead preparations for the State of Hawaii’s to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference, which brought 20,000 government and business leaders from 21 Asia-Pacific economies to Honolulu in 2011 and $37.7 million for Waikiki hotels.
Led by the National Wildlife Federation and the Sierra Club, the heads of seven large conservation groups wrote the State Department in support of the Hawai‘i bid because "to host the next World Conservation Congress in Honolulu during the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service would be a new landmark in resolving the global environmental issues President Obama has so clearly outlined."
Senator Schatz thanked Governor Abercrombie and his staff for their partnership in the effort to bring the global conference to Hawaii and praised the efforts of:

  • Chipper Wichman, Chair of the IUCN 2016 Steering Committee;
  • Christopher Dunn, Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee;
  • Steve Montgomery, Chair of the Steering Committee’s NGO Support working group;
  • Mark McGuffie, June Matsumoto, and Randy Tanaka, Co-Chairs of the IUCN Bid working group;
  • The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Kamehameha Schools, Steering Committee members; and
  • Dr. Tom Lovejoy, member of the Steering Committee.


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