March 2, 2020
Dear 11th World Wilderness Congress Delegates and Friends,
WILD11 is facing the global uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 in the best way possible – which is not easy. This message is to inform you of the decision to indefinitely postpone the 11th World Wilderness Congress (WILD11). The safety of our delegates and the larger community is our prevailing concern as the world confronts the emerging COVID-19 pandemic. Even as I write this message, new COVID-19 cases are emerging in Jaipur, the city to host WILD11.
While this is the unambiguously right decision to make, it does not come without missed opportunities. Which is why we still need you to engage, on another level, with the ideas and actions we had planned for WILD11.
Information on registration, tour, airport transfer, hotel, and travel refunds will be found here as soon as it is available. Delegates may apply for a registration refund by filling out the form on this page by no later than 31 March 2020. Thank you for your patience as we continue to provide information on refunds in the coming days.
As we all know by now, COVID-19 was born out of an unhealthy, irresponsible, and exploitative relationship with the natural world, as so many other recent novel viruses have been. And we are encouraged by China’s new commitment to halt the legal trade of wildlife and the so-called “wet markets” that abuse wild nature and spawn novel diseases that jeopardize global human health.
But the dilemma of our broken relationship with nature is much larger than wet markets and the legal and illegal trafficking of wild animals. Even as the United Nations prepares to gather later this year in the hopes of setting ambitious and urgently needed protected area targets for the next decade, other sectors of society continue to accelerate the destruction of Earth’s life-giving landscapes. In the next 30 years, our species is set to double the amount of urban square footage at the same time it is expected to lay 25 million kilometers of road – enough to encircle Earth 600 times.
The 11th World Wilderness Congress was the platform upon which we would unify the dual emergencies of climate breakdown and mass extinction with a single solution: wild nature. It was also a global gathering specifically planned to challenge world leaders with the following questions:
- How much nature do we need to survive?
- When is it more feasible to protect nature, when it is still relatively intact (as it is now) or thirty years from now, when it is even more fragmented than it is today and requires restoration on an almost unimaginable scale?
This year, 2020, already beset by the many drawbacks of a dangerously unhealthy relationship with nature, is also rich in unprecedented opportunities to change course on a planetary scale and take the first steps toward a better and more stable future.
And that is why we still need you to engage with the ideas and outcomes to come out of the process leading up to WILD11, especially the Survival Revolution.
The biodiversity crisis underlies the climate emergency and is the greatest threat to life on Earth, but still many around the world do not understand just how much we all depend on wild nature for our own survival. The Survival Revolution is poised to help change that by expanding public awareness and the demand for immediate public action around the world, and especially in five cornerstone countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS).
We are recruiting ambassadors and influencers for the Survival Revolution and ask that you sign up here. Details of how you can help influence the coming United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity will be forthcoming.
Additionally, we urge you to embark upon your own journey of discovery with these other practical outcomes to emerge from the WILD11 process:
- In early March I will participate in the very first national-scale climate emergency capacity building workshop for Indian state-level officials. This is funded by the Tata Trusts and India Climate Collaborative, and a first-level WILD11 programme.
- A Global Charter for Rewilding, developed by world-class conservation experts, to be launched as a result of the process leading up to WILD11.
- Expansion of the Survival Revolution public outreach network.
Finally, we ask that you stay tuned in the coming months for news about next steps, new plans, and upcoming gatherings to build dynamic and powerful communities and coalitions for the protection of our wild and healthy Earth.
In deep appreciation for your support now and in the future as we build support for a wild and healthy planet, I conclude this difficult, but very right and necessary message.
In strength and love, and moving forward,
Vance G. Martin