Recap of the 77th WAZA Annual Conference
The 77th WAZA Annual Conference was held from 23-27 October 2022 in Tenerife, Spain. Hosted by Loro Parque, after two years of virtual conferences, the attendees met to discuss seminal issues for the zoo and aquarium community. We welcomed 186 members, and 32 non-members, representing 41 regions and countries from all over the world, highlighting WAZA’s global membership and reach.
On the first day of the conference, the President of the Canary Islands Mr Ángel Torres Pérez, the president of the Parliament of the Canary Islands Mr Gustavo Matos, the President of Loro Parque Mr Wolfgang Kiessling and WAZA President Dr Clément Lanthier shared their opening remarks. The opening was followed by the first keynote speaker, Mr Hugo Morán, the Secretary of State for the Environment, Spain. He made an inspiring speech about the urgent need to reconcile the environment and economic and social challenges, so as to restore the balance between nature and civilisation.
The second day of the WAZA conference saw the keynote address by Francesc Carreras Comes, the Digital Marketing Professor at ESADE and the Co-Founder of MamisDigitales.org, who provided insights on communicating effectively and reputation management. Carreras also spoke about the importance of branding and how you can use different kinds of media as promotional tools.
Day three keynote speaker, Trang Nguyen, the Founder and Executive Director of Vietnamese based NGO WildAct shared her incredible work in combating illegal wildlife trade between Africa and Asia. She also spoke about her conservation organisation WildAct, which focuses on three main programs: education, creating a better and safer work environment for women and gender minorities, and empowering local communities.
On the final day of the conference, David Ainsworth, the Head of Communications of the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity, shared his keynote address. He discussed the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the role of zoos and aquariums in supporting the implementation of the Framework touching on how zoos and aquariums can raise awareness and contribute to pro-conservation behaviour and social change.
Over the course of the conference, there were several insightful presentations on diverse topics. The key work on environmental sustainability being undertaken in zoos and aquariums was highlighted with the launch of the WAZA Carbon Guide on Reducing, Measuring, and Offsetting Carbon in zoos and aquariums by Karen Fifield MNZM and Elaine Bensted. This guide assists members in measuring and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and outlines various steps which zoos and aquariums can take across their operations.
The WAZA PalmOil Scan App was also introduced to the attendees. This mobile app allows users to scan a product’s barcode and learn if the company that makes the product is committed to sourcing Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). Diversity and inclusion in zoos and aquariums was also discussed with organisations sharing their key initiatives in promoting diversity and being more inclusive.
At the conference, attendees also heard from several Reverse the Red panels as part of the Reverse the Red in Evolution session. Reverse the Red Executive Committee members and guest panellists from a variety of zoos and aquariums discussed the Plus One approach, the growing Centres for Species Survival and National Networks, and gave examples of empowering communities and amplifying success. A session on the importance of population management was moderated by David Field, Chair of the WAZA Committee for Population Management. The session built bridges between population management and the importance for zoo and aquarium directors to support it at an institutional and regional level.
The progress made on a new code of ethics for WAZA and the proposed 2024 WAZA membership fee model were also presented during the conference. In addition to this, the progress made on the 2023 Animal Welfare Goal was presented and was followed by a panel, were the potential of the goal and the potential meaning of it beyond the zoo and aquarium community were discussed.
In 2022, WAZA undertook a strategic planning process to re-evaluate its role in the zoo and aquarium community, its vision and core principles. The progress made thus far was presented to the conference attendees, providing opportunities to workshop the work presented.
WAZA Award Winners
The 77th WAZA Annual Conference celebrated achievements of WAZA members in conservation, sustainability and contribution to research on zoos and aquariums. Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Avian Health in the Galapagos Islands was awarded the Conservation Award for their work on the conservation of habitat and disease management, the integrated One Health approach, and the use of training and legislative or policy actions with the local conservation agencies.
Marwell Wildlife, United Kingdom, was awarded the Environment Sustainability Award for their innovative and consistent approach towards sustainability management, having clear long-term targets and commitments in reducing their use of carbon and water, and waste management. Their vision is clearly aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Radosław Ratajszcak, Director Emeritus of Zoo Wrocław, was awarded the Heini Hediger Award celebrating his tremendous contributions to WAZA, to Polish zoos, and to the global zoo and aquarium community. His work in modernising and improving the standards of zoos has helped shape current zoos, and his influence goes beyond the zoo world, as his involvement in in situconservation in regions such as Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines has promoted local conservation of critically endangered species.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.