World Wilderness Congress

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The World Wilderness Congress (WWC) is the longest-running, public international conservation project and environmental forum and is the flagship project of The WILD Foundation and The Wilderness Network. The 1st WWC convened in South Africa in 1977. The most recent process culminated in the 10th WWC in Salamanca, Spain in 2013.

It was founded by South African conservationist Dr Ian Player and Sir Laurens van der Post at the suggestion of Zulu Game Ranger Magqubu Ntombela. Addressing the fundamental relationship between wild nature and people - both the importance of protecting wild nature, and its irreplaceable role in the health and prosperity of human society - the WWC is a conservation project which identifies conservation objectives and then organizes collaborative partnerships to achieve the objectives. The process culminates during each project cycle (approximately every 4 years), in a high profile, public, international event attracting delegates from around the world, often from non-developed countries, and includes heads of state and ministers as well as many senior policymakers, business, indigenous and community, cultural and scientific leaders. The focus is on environmental issues with a global perspective, with the well-being of wild nature and the related needs of human communities at the center of the action. It is one of the most prestigious international environmental forums, and the only one in which members of the public may interact closely with senior leaders.

List of Congresses[edit]

1st World Wilderness Congress[edit]

October, 1977 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

2,500 delegates from 27 countries.

Proceedings: Voices of the Wilderness, edited by Ian Player and published by Jonathan Ball, 1978.

Introduced the idea of wilderness conservation as a global issue and not just something done in western cultures. Presented programs to bring races and nations around the world together in the name of nature conservation. Looked at banking and economics for the first time as an important element in conservation efforts. Presented the largest exhibit of conservation art in Africa up to that time. Inspired production of a BBC film, Zululand Wilderness: The Black Umfolozi Rediscovered.

2nd World Wilderness Congress[edit]

June, 1980, in Queensland, Australia.

1,000 delegates from 25 countries.

Proceedings: Wilderness, edited by Vance Martin and published by Findhorn Press, 1981.

Great Barrier Reef recommend for inclusion in the World Heritage List. Areas of virgin rainforest in Queensland were protected under park status. International attention brought for the first time to the issue of wilderness conservation in Tasmania. The employment of Aboriginal people in the Australian park service. The first global overview of wilderness definitions was created, including a country by country survey of the legal and cultural status of the concept.

3rd World Wilderness Congress[edit]

October, 1983 in Inverness and Findhorn, Scotland

600 delegates from 25 countries.

Proceedings: Wilderness: The Way Ahead, edited by Martin and Inglis, published by Findhorn & Lorian Press, 1984.

Formal announcement of Great Britain's ratification of the World Heritage Convention. Formation of the Italian Wilderness Association, which created wilderness legislation for the first time in Italy. Establishment of the Wilderness Action Group in South Africa to advocate for wilderness legislation.

4th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

September, 1987 in Denver and Estes Park, Colorado, United States

2,000 delegates from 64 countries.

Proceedings: For the Conservation of Earth, edited by Vance G. Martin, published by Fulcrum, Inc., 1988.

Proposed the establishment of a World Conservation Bank, which eventually led to the $1.1 billion Global Environment Facility. Advocation of wilderness areas under the IUCN Categories of Protected Areas, which was accepted in 1990. Proposal to accept the Cairngorm Plateau for listing as a World Heritage Site. Proposal for a World Conservation Corps, or Service, as an outlet for public environmental action.

5th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

September 1993, in Tromsø, Norway

600 delegates from 25 countries.

Proceedings: Arctic Wilderness, edited by Vance G. Martin and Nicholas Tyler, published by North American Press, 1995.

Advocated wilderness issues in the polar regions. Introduced the concept of sustainable living as a logical extension of sustainable development. Announced over 30 resolutions dealing with global issues of wildlands and wildlife, sustainable benefits for local people, and numerous scientific and policy matters. Presented the first inventory of Wild Rivers of the North. Presented a number of arctic guidelines for the Northern Forum.

6th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

October, 1998, in Bangalore, India

700 delegates from 30 nations.

Proceedings: Wilderness and Humanity: The Global Issue, Vance Martin and Partha Sarathy, eds., Fulcrum Press, Golden, Colorado, 2001.

Introduced the concept of wilderness areas in Asia, where before no such wilderness protected areas existed. Produced a comprehensive survey of the worlds rivers. Reintroduction of the Cheetah in India. Discussion of marine wilderness protected areas.

7th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

November, 2001, Port Elizabeth, South Africa

700 delegates from over 44 nations

Proceedings Wilderness and Human Communities, The Spirit of the 21st Century, Vance Martin and Andrew Muir eds., Fulcrum Press, Golden CO, 2004.

Andrian Gardiner, owner of Shamwari Game Reserve, announces the first legal wilderness area on private property in Africa. New national wilderness legislation and plans for new wilderness designations in Nambia announced. The Global Environmental Facility announces two new grants to assist wilderness and wildlands conservation - Baviaanskloof, SA and Angola's Kissma National Park.

8th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

2005, Anchorage, Alaska, United States.

1,200 delegates from 60 nations

Wilderness is announced as an official category within Mexico's protected areas framework and the El Carmen Wilderness Area is designated. Other accomplishments include the inception of the Native Lands and Wilderness Council and the International League of Conservation Photographers and the launch of Umzi Wethu Training Academy for Displaced Youth in SA, addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

9th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

WILD9 convened from 6–13 November 2009 in Mérida, Mexico with 1800 delegates from 50 countries and over 12,000 online participants from 130 countries. Opened by President Felipe Calderon, WILD9 conveyed an extraordinary atmosphere of hope and enthusiasm. With the central theme of wilderness, people and climate change, the WILD9 process addressed the most imperative environmental issues, resulting in many specific outcomes, available online.

10th World Wilderness Congress[edit]

Salamanca, Spain - October 11, 2013 -- Over 1,000 delegates from more than 65 nations -- conservationists, scientists, governments officials, Indigenous leaders, artists and others -- and many others from the general public in Spain, filled the medieval city center of Salamanca to explore, debate, connect and forge partnerships and implement targeted actions to value and protect wild nature around the world, and to protect its benefits for human society. They were joined by approximately 25,000 people from 85 countries who followed the proceedings on-line. Many new initiatives developed as part of the WILD10 collaborative planning process were officially launched from Global Gathering (plenary) platform and as WILD10 progressed through the Global Forum (working sessions). Specific outcomes are available in English and Spanish.

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