Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research President’s Scholars

Isabelle Galko: My experience at IUCN in France

Isabelle Galko at IUCN

by Isabelle Galko ’22

This month, I traveled to Marseille and presented at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, a global meeting that takes place once every four years and serves as an assembly of leaders and decision-makers from government, academia, society, indigenous cultures, and industry working towards conserving the environment.

My presentation for the forum at IUCN was titled “Preparing Families to be Act as Stewards to Combat Climate Change and Restore Ocean Health.” The presentation showcases three projects (including my own) designed to increase individual stewardship and mitigate climate change risks in local communities. I specifically focused on female leadership in conservation and using the featured projects as models for future youth-led community-based initiatives. I also worked with IUCN’s Commission on Education and Communication (CEC) over the 10 days at the conference. The commission’s current focus is an initiative called NatureForAll, which promotes equitable access to nature to cultivate love and appreciation for nature, with the goal to increase conservation of nature. When I arrived in Marseille, I set up the CEC’s “Youth Oasis,” where I connected with other young conservation leaders from around the world, helped put on interactive programs for the conference, and shared information about NatureForAll.

The first night, I saw French President Macron and the actor Harrison Ford speak at the Opening Ceremony. I attended sessions on many different topics, including the blue economy, environmental law, and amplifying indigenous voices in conservation, sat in on the member’s assembly, and heard from amazing experts, including the Prince of Monaco, the UN Special Envoy to the Ocean, and National Geographic explorers. I learned so much in Marseille, but my biggest takeaway from IUCN is that future approaches to address environmental challenges must be transgenerational, intersectional, and inclusive. Ultimately, conservation must be re-centered around people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *