At the event, 70+70 Years of Nature Conservation, on the evening of 9 May at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Belgrade, Serbia, the IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECARO) and IUCN Member, the Institute for Conservation of Nature of Serbia (ICNS), celebrated the 70th anniversaries of both organisations.
“Back in 1948, our visionary founders realised that no one government or organisation could correct humanity’s course alone. They created a Union – the International Union for Conservation of Nature – that could bring the science, knowledge and decision-making power to drive real and lasting change,” recalled Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General in the video welcome address.
The event gathered representatives of international organisations, regional governments, and scientific and cultural institutions from Serbia and neighbouring countries. History of the work in the field of nature conservation in Serbia was presented at the event. Aleksandar Dragišić, Director of the Institute for Conservation of Nature of Serbia announced that Serbia will focus on increasing protected areas territory coverage from current 7.48% to over 10%, to reach the European standard for nature protection. “The process of including our protected areas into the European Natura 2000 ecological network is one of the key activities in which we are engaged in the coming period,” he added. He also reminded that, to date, Serbia has published four Red Books assessing the species conservation status on the national level (of Flora, Daily butterflies, Fauna and amphibians, and Fauna II and reptiles), while two will be finalised this year, of Orthoptera and Birds.
In the context of challenges brought by the changing climate Boris Erg, Director of IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia underlined the importance of successful cooperation with Members in Serbia and an ever growing social responsibility of nature conservation: “There is a growing body of evidence showing that biodiversity and nature-based solutions are cost-effective, efficient and sometimes the only solutions to face the growing impact of climate change on communities, from extended droughts, continuous rise in temperature, abundant precipitation and other adverse events leading to natural disasters,” he said.
Special awards were given to individuals and institutions for their contribution to nature conservation in Serbia, including IUCN Members, the Ministry of Environmental Protection of Serbia and the Institute for Nature Protection of the Vojvodina Province. Additionally, the National Geographic Serbia, an IUCN Member and global strategic partner, received the award for showing ongoing commitment and support for science, exploration and education initiatives that will preserve and protect the world’s species and ecosystems for generations to come.
As IUCN celebrates its 70th anniversary, the Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia will support and organise a series of events in the region to raise awareness about the importance of protecting our natural heritage and enhance conservation programmes. These events will include educational programmes, workshops, and exhibitions.