The World Cup of Protected Areas Date: November 20, 2014 A delegation of government and non-government agencies involved in protected areas management, led by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development, Hon. Senator Lisel Alamilla, participated in the IUCN World Parks Congress: Sydney, November 2014. The Congress is held every 10 years and is considered one of the most influential global events focused on conserving the world’s protected areas. Over 6,000 people from 170 countries participated in this year’s Congress where leaders shared knowledge and innovation, while setting the agenda for protected areas conservation for the decade to come. Minister Alamilla participated in a high-level roundtable along with the IUCN President, Zhang Xinsheng and 2 Australian Ministers – Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and the New South Wales Minister for the Environment – in addition to other Heads of State, Heads of Government, Senators, Ministers and Vice-Ministers attending the World Parks Congress, as well as Heads of International Organizations and Conventions. The event focused on matters of common interest related to protected areas, with a view to formulate key messages from government leaders. Non-Government Organizations, including Toledo Institute for Development and Environment (TIDE), Ya’axché Conservation Trust and the Belize Audubon Society (BAS) conducted presentations on various programmes and initiatives being implemented in Belize such as the Ridge to Reef Program, National Ranger Training Academy and Ecotourism in protected areas. Government agencies including the Fisheries Department conducted presentations on the Managed Access Program as well as enforcement strategies in the marine reserves while the National Protected Areas Secretariat presented on the work being done at the national level to develop Belize’s National Protected Areas System. The event was held under the theme “Parks, People, Planet: Inspiring Solutions” and resulted in the recognition that rebalancing the relationship between human society and nature is essential and that ecosystems and their variety of life fully supports not only our existence but also our cultural and spiritual identity, economies and well-being. Belize’s commitment to protected areas management was firmly showcased at this global stage by the participating delegation.