As I left my hotel in the town of Mérida, Mexico, I was reminded once again just how pleasant the climate is down here this time of year, and how I can get away without the use of a pullover, coat, three pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves (it is probably freezing in Washington DC by now!) I boarded one of the buses that transports attendees to the convention center; the ride was short and full of numerous accents from around the globe. A short time later we arrived at WILD 9 – The World Wilderness Congress.
The convention center is a very busy place to say the least; lots of people with various backgrounds and interests milling around, and a large number of booths, stands, displays, you name it. Following a morning of plenary sessions, I attended the afternoon’s Marine Collaborative Session, entitled “Defining and Protecting Wilderness Character”.
I had been invited to give a talk at this session focusing on the “benefits of intact oceans,” so I had the PowerPoint presentation prepared and copied to numerous flash drives (I’m always one to have a back-up plan for the back-up plan). The other talks in our session, which was led by Cyril Kormos from the WILD Foundation, covered a range of topics, from the socioeconomic benefits of marine reserves to the results from a recent intergovernmental working group discussed by James Kurth.from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Finally, it was my turn. I hadn’t given a talk in a few years (I don’t think a wedding speech counts), so I was hoping I wouldn’t let my nerves get the better of me. It ended up going great, and I really enjoyed the experience of presenting again – plus it always helps when there is a good turnout, and we had over 50 people crammed into a small room, without a free chair in sight. (This was more to do with the fact that people are getting really engaged in marine issues, as opposed to the fact that they came to see me talk!)
Anyway, judging by the large number of people we had at the first session, I think the other marine sessions later in the week will spur some interesting discussion on how to define marine wilderness and govern it effectively.
Edward Lohnes is the Executive Assistant for Global Marine Conservation Strategies at Conservation International.