Erik Solheim to deliver Keynote Speech at WAZA Conference

Date: 2017/10/06


United Nations Environment Leader to Promote Conservation Collaboration


United Nations Environment Leader to Promote Conservation Collaboration at WAZA Conference


The United Nations’ environment chief will explore ways to work with the world’s leading zoos and aquariums to tackle biodiversity threats in a keynote address at the 72nd World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Annual Conference later this month in Berlin.



U.N. Environment Director, Erik Solheim will call for collaboration with WAZA members on global issues of concern such as marine litter, coral reef protection, and illegal trade, and promote programs that seek behaviour change to address these crises.


The 72nd Annual WAZA Conference will take place from 15-19 October in Berlin, at the Sofitel Berlin Kurfürstendamm Hotel and is hosted by the three facilities that comprise the Zoologischer Garten AG: Zoo Berlin, Aquarium Berlin and Tierpark Berlin


Earlier this year, WAZA joined forces with UN Environment and other key stakeholders to launch the World Aquariums Against Marine Litter Campaign. The campaign united more than 80 aquariums worldwide to reduce plastic waste in the ocean.


“Zoos and aquariums have the largest potential conservation network globally and by collaborating with organisations such as United Nations Environment we can tackle critical environmental and conservation issues,” said Doug Cress, Chief Executive Officer of WAZA. “Campaigns such as the World Aquariums Against Marine Litter are vital and should hopefully encourage greater collaboration between environmental and conservation organisations, and zoos and aquariums.”


Solheim was elected Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme in 2016, following an extensive career focusing on environment and development in governance and international organisations. Prior to his position at UNEP, Solheim was the chair of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


He previously held the combined portfolio of Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development, which allowed him to launch initiatives that take a coherent approach to development and the environment. He also served as Minister of International Development. During his time as Minister, Solheim established the Nature Diversity Act, which is considered to be Norway’s most important piece of environmental legislation in the last 100 years. He also established the Norwegian Climate and Forest Initiative, which has brought together Norway, Brazil, Indonesia, Guyana and other countries to conserve rainforests.


Solheim is an experienced peace negotiator and has served as UNEP’s Special Envoy for Environment, Conflict and Disaster since 2013. He has been the Patron of Nature for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2012. He has won numerous awards for his work on climate and the environment, including the UN Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award, TIME Magazine’s Hero of the Environment, and an honorary doctorate from TERI University in Delhi, India.


Other speakers at the 72nd WAZA Annual Conference include Darrel Webber, Chief Executive Officer of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); John Scanlon, Secretary-General of CITES; Jon Paul Rodriguez, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and many more leading zoo, aquarium, welfare and conservation experts.


For further information, please visit: www.waza2017. For the most up to date conference agenda, please visit:


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