Opening day of IUCN Regional Conservation Forum

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Over 400 delegates from governments, NGOs and the business sector from across Asia attended a dinner to mark the end of the first day of the 6th IUCN Asia Regional Conservation Forum – a three-day forum that brings together various stakeholders to discuss the current situation related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Asia.

The evening reception, hosted by the Government of Thailand, started shortly after sunset in Bangkok, lending a panoramic view of the Chao Praya River from the ballroom. Having served as the venue for the plenary sessions throughout the day, the ballroom was transformed in the span of an hour to a dinner and performance space.

Thai celebrity Chonphansa Narula welcomed guests, followed by a welcome speech by H.E. General Dawpong Rattanasuwan, Minister of Natural Resource and Environment, Thailand, who recounted Thailand’s commitment to conservation and led the room through a short celebration of Queen Sirikit’s birthday.

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng then gave a short speech, expounding on the conservation efforts of Thailand and the Queen herself and recounting the 2004 World Conservation Congress, held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, where the Queen had presided over the opening ceremony and was subsequently awarded the IUCN Gold Medal for her contributions to biodiversity conservation.

Aban Marker Kabraji, Regional Director, IUCN Asia then announced the results of the elections of office bearers of the Asia Regional Committee. President Zhang then went on stage to congratulate Dr Ma Ke-ping, a professor of plant ecology in the Institute of Botany at the Chinese Academic of Sciences, on his appointment as Chair of the Asia Regional Committee.

Next, the results of the photo competition organised by IUCN Asia in the months leading up to the Regional Conservation Forum were announced by Ms Jane Lawton, head of IUCN Asia’s Communications and Private Sector Engagement. The photographs, submitted from all over Asia, were beautiful and striking — and it seemed that the photographers must have scaled mountains and lain patiently in muddy fields, waiting for the correct shadows or the rare animals to appear. The winners received a copy of the limited edition coffee table book, “The IUCN Red List: 50 Years of Conservation.”

Student dancers then came on stage, performing a traditional Thai play to entertain the participants as they ate dinners. Throughout the night, guests had the opportunity to network with fellow conservation enthusiasts and specialists, while enjoying an evening of networking, delicious food and captivating musical performances by the Srinakarintharawirote University (Prasarnmitra) and the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

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