Climate Change Impacts, Conservation and Protected Values: Understanding Promotion, Ambivalence and Resistance to Policy Change at the World Conservation Congress
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The impacts of climate change imply substantive changes to current conservation policy frameworks. Debating and formulating the details of these changes was central to the agenda of the Fourth World Conservation Congress (WCC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In this paper, we document the promotion of, and resistance to, various proposals related to revising conservation policy given climate impacts as they unfolded at this key policy-setting event. Our analysis finds that, during one-on-one interviews, many experts acknowledged the need for new policy means (including increased interventions) and revised policy objectives given anticipations of habitat and species loss. However, this same pattern and the implied willingness to consider more controversial strategies were less evident at public speaking events at the WCC. Rather, active avoidance of contentious topics was observed in public settings. This resulted in the reinforcement (not revision) of conventional policy means and objectives at this meeting. We suggest that this observation can at least partly be explained by the fact that the difficult trade-offs (species for species or land base for land base) implied by nascent proposals severely violate prevailing value-based conservation commitments and so understandable resistance to change is observed.