Hawai‘i Bidding for Major Conservation Gathering Event Would Be a First for the U.S

As a four-person delegation representing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) visits Hawaii this week, the state is showcasing its position as the anchor of the Pacific in a bid to host the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress. The congress is the world’s leading summit on the environment.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

IUCN delegation and Hawaii committee members tour Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A Hawai‘i-hosted congress would be the first time it has been held in the United States since the founding of IUCN in 1948, and the event would provide a unique opportunity to share with the world, the state and nation’s values and dedication to conserving nature on both national and international levels. As many as 8,000 delegates are expected to attend the 2016 meeting.

“Based on our success hosting the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Conference, I believe we have a compelling case as to why the United States and Hawaii provide the ideal venue to host this gathering,”Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “The Aloha State is the anchor of the Pacific, and our bid is financially competitive and highlights the unique benefits of our location and host culture. We’re encouraging the IUCN evaluating team to review all that Hawai‘i has to offer for this preeminent conference.”

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

Chipper Wichman, Co-chair, Hawaii IUCN 2016 Steering Committee and Director and CEO of national Tropical Botanical Garden, Kauai.

“IUCN has been fortunate to always receive strong invitations to host our World Conservation Congresses and the 2016 Congress is no exception. There are two excellent candidates in the running to host the event: Honolulu, Hawai‘i, United States of America and Istanbul, Turkey.

We are very grateful for the enthusiasm and commitment shown by Hawai‘i and thank the team for their warm welcome throughout the site visit. The IUCN Council will make a decision regarding the venue and hosts of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in May 2014,”said Dr. Enrique Lahmann, Global Director, Union Development Group; Congress Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

Randy Tanaka and Enrique Lahmann at a reception for the IUCN delegates.

The delegation is receiving broad exposure to a wide-range of the natural and cultural attributes of the Hawaiian Islands through site visits on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i, as well as meetings and receptions with government, hospitality industry, conservation and Native Hawaiian leaders. A cross-discipline, multi-agency organizing team, led by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), is showing the delegation convention facilities, transportation, lodging and security infrastructure, attractions and meeting/marketing expertise. Members of the IUCN evaluating team also received a 107 page-long Hawai‘i Nature + Aloha, Imagine 2016 proposal, which documents broad support for the conference and includes in-depth detail about the Aloha State’s bid for the event.

DLNR Chairperson William Aila said, “With environmental and conservation issues very much at the forefront of worldwide attention, Hawai‘i is in a unique position to demonstrate what we are doing to advance conservation issues like climate change, watershed management, coral reef protection, and traditional knowledge. Having Hawai‘i host the 2016 Congress will show the world how our core values of Aloha Aina connect to nature and our diversity.”

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

IUCN delegates contemplate the stillness and vastness of Halemaumau vent.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome the IUCN Site Visit Team to Hawai‘i,”said Chipper Wichman, director of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and CEO and co-chair of the Hawai‘i IUCN 2016 Steering Committee. This is a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have been working for the past five years to bring the IUCN World Conservation Congress to Hawai‘i. “Our state is a world leader in biocultural conservation, and Gov. Abercrombie has put together a dynamic group led by William Aila and Esther Kia‘āina from the DLNR to host the IUCN team and show them the facilities and organizations that make Hawai‘i the best location for the world to convene and discuss global conservation issues. It has been an amazing week so far –we are leaving the IUCN delegation with a strong and lasting impression of Hawai‘i.”

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Governor Abercrombie at reception at Hawaii Community College.

Hosts for the IUCN delegation are demonstrating that Hawai‘i is a destination where “hospitality is not a sideline.”The IUCN World Congress bid has the full support of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and the Hawai‘i Convention Center (HCC). During this week the delegation is having meetings with HCC staff and management and many of Hawai‘i’s leading HTA-member hospitality providers. Both HTA and HCC have been working for the past five years to support the bid process.

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