IUCN World Conservation Congress Closing Ceremony

Posted on Sep 27, 2016 in Main

Remarks of Governor David Ige as prepared

September 10, 2016 – IUCN World Conservation Congress Closing Ceremony at the Hawai’i Convention Center


Just 10 short days ago, I was welcoming you to Hawai‘i. Now, on the last day of the IUCN World Conservation Congress, we must say aloha.

I would like to start by thanking the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Hawai‘i Host Committee, the Hawai‘i State Legislature, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the countless staff and volunteers for making this event possible.

This week Hawai‘i played host to thousands of delegates and members from 192 countries. The amount of ‘ike, knowledge, that was shared during presentations, panels, discussions and in the hallways of the Convention Center is truly amazing. We have been able to learn from all of you, and to share our people, our culture, and our place – our Hawai‘i.

At the Hawai‘i-Pacific Pavilion we witnessed communities from across the Pacific gather to discuss issues of climate change, forests, and reefs; the role of indigenous peoples in conservation; and the inextricable link between nature and culture. Throughout, we were inspired by global stars like Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, Thomas Friedman, E. O. Wilson, and our own Nainoa Thompson, who reminded us that the concept of “later” is no longer acceptable, and that we must act now if we are to set a course toward a brighter future.

The Congress has not only been an opportunity to learn from others and share our message of aloha and mālama honua with our new ‘ohana from around the world, but has also served as the perfect launching point for Hawai‘i’s path forward.

At the opening ceremony I announced the State’s Sustainable Hawai‘i Initiative. It includes commitments to protect 30% of our priority watersheds and effectively manage 30% of our nearshore ocean waters by 2030, double local food, implement Hawai‘i’s first-ever Interagency Biosecurity Plan, and achieve 100% renewable energy in electricity by 2045. Every step we take toward these goals, short-term and long-term, will help Hawaiʻi and the world. Hawai‘i also accepted the invitation to join the Global Island Partnership and will share our model for sustainability, the Aloha+ Challenge, with other island communities.

These commitments to conservation and sustainability are aligned with the world’s priorities and with strategic issues of importance to the IUCN. By fulfilling our commitments here in Hawai‘i, we are doing our part towards the global goal of achieving a more resilient and sustainable Island Earth.

What is clear now, more than ever before, is that we are in this together — one canoe navigating Island Earth. The planet is indeed at a crossroads. But Hawai‘i, along with the rest of the world, has the power to choose the direction we take.

While this marks the official end of the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress, in many ways this is just the beginning. The legacy of this Congress will be far reaching. The work does not stop after today. Hawai‘i has the heart and capacity to make this happen. Now we must do it. Together, we can change the world. And together we will.

So until we meet again — ā hui hou, and on behalf of the people of Hawai‘i, mahalo and aloha.