By Bernard O'Callaghan, IUCN's Regional Programme Coordinator for Oceania 

Yesterday at the Congress, island species, green growth and leadership were the focus of discussions. Two sessions focused on islands and their future.

Firstly, the IUCN Oceania team outlined the great progress that has been made in Red Listing in the Pacific. Despite the recent evaluation of freshwater fishes, snails and reptiles, the species of the Pacific remain some of the least known in the world. The Pacific Species Forum held in April this year, opened by the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, provided a great opportunity to draw together those specialists with knowledge about the Pacific and chart a course for Red listing and species work in the region. Achieving Aichi target 12 (of the Convention on Biological Diversity) remains a challenge for Pacific island countries and all partners and members were urged to support governments in achieving these targets. We need to train and enthuse young Pacific Island taxonomists – said Professor Randy Thaman from the University of South Pacific.

Secondly, the session on Island Leadership on Global Challenges explored how islands are adopting sustainable development approaches, such as green and blue economic models, that are suited to overcoming not only island circumstances but addressing common global challenges. Hawaii and its 2050 Green Growth Strategy provided an example to other island countries on how to establish clear targets to move forward with both development and biodiversity conservation.

Nicholas Conner, of IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas highlighted how islands are progressing and implementing their own strategies and approaches to overcome common challenges facing them (such as climate change, food security, poverty reduction) and navigate their own routes towards sustainable ‘Blue/Green’ Economies. The Micronesia Challenge (MC) shared how collaborative partnerships between countries motivated individuals, leaders and organizations can leverage conservation results—at multiple scales and with a solid return on investments.

Both sessions recognised the critical importance of political leadership in advancing local, regional and global priorities to support sustainable development on islands.