Belgium was hosting the 63rd General Assembly of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation under the motto of “Hunting is Conservation”, from 22 April to 23 April 2016, where 400 participants from 36 countries attended from around the world, among them high ranking representatives from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, representatives from the European Commission and European Parliament, as well as from international organizations, government delegations, hunting organizations and scientists.
The aim of the General Assembly was to foster participation and dialogue between members and various stakeholders, including governments, international organizations, and the scientific and academic communities, so as to promote sustainable hunting and sustainable policies for worldwide wildlife management, create awareness of wildlife problems, motivate commitment for their solution at the highest level, thus promoting better management of sustainable hunting and wildlife conservation at the local, regional, national and international levels.
Opened by CIC President Bernard Lozé, who recalled some of the CIC’s achievements since the last General Assembly, which have greatly contributed to its sustained growth. Read Bernard Lozé’s welcome speech.
Karel Pinxten, Dean of European Court of Auditors, in his welcome remarks, highlighted that hunters are responsible for sustainable hunting practices, predator control, and habitat improvement, and these three areas show our commitment for sustainable hunting. “If we do all three, we can show and share our commitment.” He added, “Stakeholders need to work together, and we must do our best to make sure that opposition and mistrust are not the way, because the model works only based on trust – working with local stakeholders and authorities who love nature and our shared biodiversity.”
As a keynote speaker, Jyrki Katainen, Vice- President of the European Commission addressed the audience during the Opening Ceremony. The Commissioner for Job, Growth, Investment, and Competitiveness, and an active hunter, highlighted that being a hunter requires “Responsibility, Sustainability and Transparency”. He called upon hunters and organizations to make the most of the force they represent. “We should work together on our common conservation goals.”
The Opening Ceremony was followed by an interesting panel discussion on “What if we stop hunting”, where five experts from around the world sat down and discussed the environmental, social and economic impacts of hunting bans.
The upcoming 64rd CIC General Assembly in 2017 will be celebrated in Montreux and hosted by the CIC Swiss Delegation.