By Hans Friederich, Director of IUCN's Regional Office for Europe.
 
It was really interesting to hear the speech from Rachel Kyte, Vice President Sustainable Development at the World Bank at the opening of the Congress Forum about the need to “put nature in the heart of economy”. She reflected on the worsening state of ecosystems and species, recognising that at the same time we have had a period of unrivaled economic growth.

Rachel called for economic growth with an environmental dimension, and stressed the need to position nature at the foundation of economic strategies. She listed three reasons to be optimistic:

1. Governments are stepping up their efforts to integrate the values of nature and its services in their national accounts systems. She gave a case study from Liberia, Africa. IUCN Europe needs to present its own examples, and we should work with our Members to document these case studies in Europe.

2. There is a growing leadership in parts of the private sector, and some companies are serious about integrating nature in their business practices. Rachel gave Rio Tinto as an example, but others like UPM Kymmene in Finland are also great case studies. We will be talking about the UPM experience on 8 September at the IUCN Congress at 14:30 (#forum1096).

3. The need for action is starting to overwhelm the political deadlock that was highlighted at the Rio+20 summit. NGOs, companies and local authorities are taking the lead in changing practices and developing new approaches. IUCN in Europe is working with Stockholm Resilience Institute, ICLEI and others on biodiversity in local authorities, so this really touched home. There will be a session at the Congress on “collaborating with local and sub-national authorities to achieve the Aichi targets (of the Convention on Biological Diversity) on 11 September at 11am (#forum0141).

Rachel stressed the need for urgency and appealed for action by three sectors of society: She asked governments to take the issues of nature conservation seriously and to integrate values of nature and ecosystem services into account when planning and budgeting. She asked for the private sector to be serious about nature conservation and recommended that nature needs to be discussed in the boardroom and shareholders' meetings, and she asked for civil society to engage with other sectors and to look for new, innovative partnerships to make things happen.

Rachel stressed that The World Bank is committed to work with IUCN and its Members to make Nature+ happen. I will follow up, after the Congress, to explore how we may take joint action in Europe.