Hawaiʻi is 2016 Host of World’s Largest Conservation Gathering
By Wendy Osher
Hawaiʻi has been selected as host of the 2016 World Conservation Congress, put on by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The event is touted as the largest and most prestigious conservation gathering in the world; and this is the first time a US location has been selected as host since the organization’s inception in 1948.
The event is expected to attract as many as 8,000 delegates to Hawaiʻi and result in an estimated economic impact of $37.7 million in visitor spending, and $3.6 million in tax revenue, according to Brian Lynx, vice president of meetings, conventions and incentives for the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority.
“This is both an honor and opportunity for us to show the entire conservation community, the world over, how Hawaiʻi has adopted a leadership role in preserving and protecting resources, developing sustainability programs on multiple-fronts, and addressing many of the issues associated with global climate change,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie in a press release lauding the decision.
“Hawaii’s selection further validates our position as an ideal location for high-level meetings and the cross-pollination of groundbreaking, world-changing vision and ideas. Their confidence in our ability to host a global conference of this scale is no doubt bolstered by our reputation for successfully handling other conventions of this scope and importance,” said Lynx in an HTA statement.
“The Hawaiian islands are a place of great diversity – from nature to our people – and I believe they will find it most inspiring and productive to meet in the Aloha State,” he said.
The announcement comes on the heels of a site visit in February, in which a four-person delegation representing the International Union for Conservation of Nature toured the Hawaiian islands. That visit included stops on Hawaiʻi Island, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi, which featured meetings and receptions with government, hospitality industry, conservation and native Hawaiian leaders.
William Aila, Jr., chair of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources said the state’s unique culture, location and environment are “perfect attributes for this worldwide conference.”
The agency will serve as the lead of a team made up of non-profit and private industry representatives who will be involved in the planning and organization of the 2016 event.
The conference is held once every four years and aims to improve management of the natural environment.