By Edward Hind-Ozan
Exciting news here at IMCC HQ! Dr. Brett Favaro, co-chair of the recent 4th International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC4), last month received the ‘Award of Distinction to a Local Conference Chair’ at the Destination St John’s annual award ceremony. When presented the award at St. John’s City Hall, Dr. Favaro was told the award was due to efforts that had been made to extend the conference to the local community. With over 100 conferences held in St. John’s held in 2016, the recognition is significant.
IMCC4 Co-Chair, Dr. Brett Favaro recieves the ‘Award of Distinction to a Local Conference Chair’ from the Mayor of St. John’s and the CEO of Destination St. John’s. (image: City of St. John’s)
As the late-arriving Deputy Chair of IMCC4, I’m not at all surprised that Dr. Favaro was honoured with this award. The ideas that he and Co-Chair, Samantha Oester (she is equally worthy of this award, but it was a local awards ceremony), came up with made IMCC4 the next-level meeting that so many of you enjoyed. The City of St. John’s were impressed with the workshops that were held pre-conference, the beach cleanup that delegates took part in, our embracing of the truly fantastic George Street Festival as part of the congress’ extracurricular program, and the Tales from the Sea public storytelling session LSPU Hall.
I had a chance to catch up with Dr. Favaro over e-mail this week, and he was happy to talk more about why IMCC4 won the award. For him, just as significant as the conference’s outreach program, was the fact that St. John’s was made to be the star of the show, not just any host city. Favaro told me, “We really pushed to integrate the conference to the local environment – this wasn’t just a bunch of people flying into the convention centre, it was a cultural experience in many ways. We wanted people to bring their knowledge to this place to help us manage our oceans better, and we wanted them to take away an experience that they will remember after.”
Most gratifying, perhaps, is reviewing the list of meetings that IMCC4 was competing alongside in winning this award. St. Johns is home to important fishing and hydrocarbon industries, each represented by their own meetings, so for a marine conservation meeting to top that list is quite something. Dr. Favaro believes this is partly down to the message IMCC4 sent with its commitments to sustainability and equality, with events like the sustainable seafood dinner, and policies like the meeting accessibility policy delivered in collaboration with local inclusivity organisation, inclusionNL.
Dr. Favaro was also quick to emphasise that although the IMCC4’s award was for a local chair, “it takes a village”. He shares it with the whole Organising Committee, especially congress co-chair Samantha Oester and now IMCC5 Meeting Manager, Travis Nielsen of Azurigen Management and Consulting Solutions Inc.
And, it’s also important we share this award with you, our delegates. You constantly push us to organise meetings that are worthwhile for marine conservation, while also ethical and inclusive in their delivery. Many of you, quite rightfully, wouldn’t attend the meetings if they weren’t. In my current capacity as IMCC5 Chair, I look to the initiatives that landed this award, as the standard I must meet. We need to make Kuching as central in the next International Marine Conservation Congress as St. John’s was in the last, and this is our intention. Our organising committee has already met with several local stakeholder groups to ensure we do this, and we’ll soon begin to announce local initiatives to take part around IMCC5 on this blog. To foster greater inclusivity, we’re looking into providing telepresence attendance. In short, IMCC4’s success will make IMCC5 better a meeting, one we hope you’ll enjoy as much.
Edward Hind-Ozan was the IMCC4 Deputy Chair. He is currently IMCC5 Chair and Vice President of the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB) Marine Section.