(as reported by CSVPA’s Radhika Borde) CSVPA has had a major presence at the 2014 Sydney World Parks Congress! It has organized two workshops at which protected area managers, indigenous peoples, representatives of the world’s major religions and other interested delegates came together to help co-create guidelines for the integration of cultural and spiritual values into protected area management, as well as a larger training program aimed at providing guidance on the same. Through these activities, CSVPA has reached out to well over 100 congress delegates interested in knowing more about our group and engaging with it into the future.
These activities were enabled by a grant from the Christensen Fund for which the Mountain Institute served as the host institution. A small international team coordinated the workshops. Members of CSVPA also gave presentations at other sessions at the World Parks Congress, thereby generating further visibility for our shared work. One of these was a session on sacred natural sites and well-being, which was part of the congress stream on “Healthy Parks, Healthy People”. CSVPA has also had a major impact on the IUCN recommendations that came out of the congress. Cultural and spiritual values, sacred natural sites as well as the world’s major religions all find mention in the recommendations, in relation to nature conservation.
All in all, it was an action packed week. The organizing team spent many days brainstorming the structure of the workshops. Workshop participants were asked to design an ideal training program that they would enjoy participating in and which would provide guidance on cultural and spiritual values in relation to protected area management. They were also asked to design pertinent guidelines in a similar manner. A major component of the workshops included an emphasis on networking – i.e. whether and how a strong network can be created around this project. We are all looking forward to a very exciting future for our work and our group!