Wildlife & Biodiversity

How can humans & animals exist more peacefully? Global conference tries to find solutions

International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence is being held in Oxford, the United Kingdom

By Preetha Banerjee
Published: Friday 31 March 2023
How can humans & animals exist more peacefully? Global conference tries to find solutions
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

Human-wildlife conflicts across the world are a major challenge to conservation of species and an ongoing global conference aims to address the problem by facilitating collaboration between sectors and disciplines. 

Human-wildlife conflicts makes co-existence with nature difficult and hinders biodiversity protection. A case in point: Conflict-related killing affects more than 75 per cent of the world’s wild cat species, according to the United Nations Environment programme. 

The International Conference on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence being held in Oxford, the United Kingdom from March 30-April 1, 2023 has brought together hundreds of representatives from conservation organisations, academia, governments, businesses and indigenous as well as local communities from six continents and 70 countries to discuss solutions. 

The first conference of this scale is being organised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UN Development Programme and several more. 

It will provide a platform for experts from the fields of “ecology, animal behaviour, psychology, law, conflict analysis, mediation, peacebuilding, international development, economics, anthropology and others, to understand human-wildlife conflict through various viewpoints, learn from each other, and build new links and collaborations”, according to IUCN. 

Effective management of human-wildlife interactions to minimise for coexistence across countries will be the fulcrum of the discussions. It was prescribed in Target 4 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework agreed at the UN Biodiversity Conference in December 2022.

With that goal, the experts will work towards the following action-points:

  1. Facilitate dialogue and peer-to-peer learning across sectors and actors on the topic for partnerships and collaboration across people and institutions working on human-wildlife conflict.
  2. Generate interdisciplinary and shared understanding of the latest insights, technologies, methods, ideas, and information from the field of human-wildlife conflict, coexistence and interactions.
  3. Mainstream human-wildlife conflict as one of the top global priorities in biodiversity conservation and the Sustainable Development Goals for the next decade, catalysing opportunities for working together on national, regional or global policies and initiatives.
  4. Identify and develop a collective way forward for addressing knowledge and implementation gaps for effective efforts to reduce and manage human-wildlife conflict

The IUCN SSC Guidelines on Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence will also be published at the event. 

The recommendations encompass both the social and ecological aspects of human-wildlife conflict, IUCN wrote in a release. 

“In some parts of the world, human-wildlife conflicts are closely linked to people’s values, identities and beliefs, for example in the interactions between Indigenous peoples and the land. In others, it is a matter of daily survival and loss of livelihoods, such as where communities live in close proximity to elephants or large predators,” said Greta Francesca Iori, member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Human-Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence Specialist Group. 

The new IUCN Guidelines provide a clear steer on how to go about managing these complex situations, and will inform the formulation of new policies and community-led action strategies for achieving coexistence with wildlife in any context, she added. 

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