March, 2018. During his first visit to the Headquarters of the Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean (ORMACC) located in San Jose, Costa Rica, the President of IUCN, Dr. Zhang Xinsheng, stressed the importance of Members, Commissions and Secretariat – the three pillars that constitute the Union- working together to achieve the goals for Sustainable Development: "Solutions do not come just from others parts of the world, solutions are also coming from here".
Dr. Grethel Aguilar, Regional Director of IUCN-ORMACC, emphasized that it was an honor to have the President with us in the year of the 70th Anniversary of IUCN. "It is truly a joy, not only to be able to have the President here in Costa Rica, but also to be able to work hand in hand with the IUCN Members. The Secretariat together with the Members and the Commissions of experts make a great alliance and we have woven very valuable projects for the region”, said the Regional Director.
Dr. Zhang met with Mr. Sergio Alfaro, Minister of the Presidency of Costa Rica, also with Mr. Hermes Navarro del Valle, representative of the Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) and with Mr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of the Environment of Costa Rica. The Regional Director explained that these meetings with government representatives were warranted so that "they could give us a vision of the wonderful things that Costa Rica does in favor of protecting the environment".
The President also had the opportunity to take field trips and thus, learn about the work that IUCN carries out in the region. The first tour was a visit to a payment for environmental services project organized by FUNDECOR, a Member organization in the region; and the second was a brief meeting with park rangers of the Braulio Carrillo National Park. He also held a meeting with the staff of the Tropical Science Center, an IUCN Member organization, in which its Director, Ana Báez, shared regarding the situation of Eco-tourism in Costa Rica.
Finally, he met virtually with the Regional Councilors, the Directors of the Regional Committees and the National Committees of Members of the region. This meeting served as an affirmation to the President of the importance of the work executed by IUCN, as a whole, in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
70th Anniversary of IUCN, 30th Anniversary of ORMACC
President Zhang thanked the Government of Costa Rica, a Member State in the region, for hosting the IUCN Regional Office for 30 years: “Costa Rica together with the other countries of Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico are very important in the eyes of IUCN for conservation and sustainable development. Not just that you are very rich in biodiversity and ecosystems but also very much diverse in cultures. It is necessary to come more to Costa Rica and to Central America and the Caribbean because there is so much here to learn about”.
The Regional Director explained that 30 years ago IUCN chose Costa Rica as its home, as its regional headquarters: "Since we arrived, it gave us International Mission status, which has allowed us to have staff from several countries of the region and the world and has allowed us to really operate in an atmosphere of great cooperation, friendship and camaraderie. That is why it is very important for me to thank the Government of Costa Rica for receiving us in this country as part of the celebration of our 30 years and 70 years of the IUCN”.
The Vice Minister of Environment of Costa Rica, Patricia Madrigal Cordero, mentioned that "Giving the space to have IUCN in the country has benefited us in many ways (...) by receiving their technical advice on conservation issues. IUCN inspired the Government of Costa Rica in the decree that we adopted in 2015 on models of governance in protected wild areas, it has supported us in the program of forests and rural development, we constantly refer to the Red List of threatened or endangered species, we have had the preventive missions of UNESCO, with the support of IUCN, to improve the attention in natural world heritage sites and many other topics of climate change and objectives for sustainable development ".
Mr. Zhang Xinsheng serves as President of the IUCN Council (2016-2020) in his second period. The IUCN Council is responsible for establishing the strategic direction of the policy that guides IUCN work in accordance with the decisions taken at the General Assembly. Mr Zhang also serves as President for the China Education Association for International Exchange. He was Vice Minister of Education of the People's Republic of China (2001-2009), Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO (2005-2007), Chairman of the World Heritage Committee (2003-2004) and Vice President of the Chinese Olympic Committee.