12th World Wilderness Congress August 25 – 31, 2024

BOULDER, Colo.  – WILD.org and Wilderness Foundation Global are proud to announce the 12th World Wilderness Congress (WILD12), to be held from Sunday, August 25 to Saturday, August 31, 2024 in He Sápa, the Black Hills, the sacred lands of the Lakota Nation.

The event’s host will be the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation and on behalf of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Lakota Council Fires. The choice of host and location is based on an invitation issued by Phil Two Eagle, the Executive Director of the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, who expressed a desire to bring the world to the Lakota homelands to “witness what is happening to the land and to listen to it speak.”

“At the invitation of the Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council, we have an all too rare opportunity to reassess wilderness through Indigenous meanings and relationships,” says Amy Lewis, Chief Executive Officer of the WILD Foundation, the Congress’ organizing partner. “Despite progress at the international level which makes wilderness a more inclusive framework, with a few exceptions we still have not formally and collectively revisited this concept with the broad input of Indigenous leaders from around the world. WILD12 is our opportunity as a global community to do so with the intent of producing concrete declarations that inform national and international policy.”

WILD12 will emphasize the necessary role of Indigenous leadership and stewardship to meet the 30×30 and Half spatial targets, and it will also include a diversity of other global themes, including: rewilding, especially when involving the reintroduction of bison, biodiversity credits and conservation finance, and the conservation of Antarctica.

Generally held every four years, the World Wilderness Congress has not convened in person in over 10 years due to interruptions caused by the COVID pandemic. The hosts and organizers of WILD12 intend, among other things, for the Congress to serve as a launchpad for several initiatives to feature in the following International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, and United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

The first World Wilderness Congress was held in South Africa in 1976. Since then, it has become the longest-running international, public environmental forum in which all sectors of society—business, artists, activists, scientists, land managers, government officials, and Indigenous and local communities—are invited to participate.

Past World Wilderness Congress have featured keynotes speakers that have included the former President of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, the current President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, former United States’ Secretary of Treasury, James Baker, Chief Herb Norwegian of the Dehcho People, Chief Tashka Yawanawa of the Yawanawa People, Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle, among others.

Despite the high-level government interest, the World Wilderness Congress is a unique opportunity for civil society to have a seat at the table of global processes. No membership is required to become a delegate; anyone can attend and participate in the deliberative processes at WILD12. Between 1,500 and 2,200 delegates on average attended past World Wilderness Congresses.

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Sacred Black Hills in our Lakota language we call it He Sapa the center of the Lakota universe where the creation stories tell us the Lakota came out of the Wind Cave and began our Journey here on Turtle Island North America, we hope to teach the world about the sacredness of creating a relationship with Unci Maka (Mother Earth) so that all our children will see the next seven generations,” remarked Phil Two Eagle, Executive Director, Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council.

WILD12 will be held in The Monument Event Center in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota. Our co-organizers include the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, the Elouise Cobell Land and Culture Institute, the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Commission on Protected Areas, and One Earth.

For more information about WILD12, please visit wild12.org or to set up interviews please contact: Adam Hanson (adam@wild.org), Deputy Executive Organizer

Amy Lewis (amy@wild.org), Executive Organizer

Phil Two Eagle (phil.twoeagle@rst-nsn.gov), Executive Organizer 

*** ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS: WILD.ORG WILD.org (also known as the WILD Foundation) has organized the World Wilderness Congress for nearly 50 years. WILD’s mission of expanding and empowering global coalitions to defend Earth’s wilderness and keep the biosphere wild is carried out by numerous programs and campaigns, the World Wilderness Congress chief among them. In the next 10 years, WILD is focused on strengthening and expanding the land stewardship of traditional cultures as the preferred method for achieving the necessary target of protecting Half of Earth’s lands and seas.

ABOUT THE HOSTS: THE SICANGU LAKOTA TREATY COUNCIL AND THE OCETI SAKOWIN The Seven Council Fires of the Lakota Nation are the traditional decision-makers in Lakota Society, and the signers of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which formally ceded a large swath of territory to the signers and their descendants. The Sicangu Lakota Treaty Council continues to advocate for traditional Lakota institutions as well as the implementation or renegotiation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. They are also working, as the traditional stewards of the Black Hills, for the benefit of all to ensure a healthy and respectful relationship between people and wild nature.

ABOUT: WILDERNESS FOUNDATION GLOBAL Wilderness Foundation Global (WFG) is an international alliance of action-oriented, like-minded organizations who understand that wilderness areas have local meaning and global significance, with direct importance to human well-being and inspiration. Founding members are Wilderness Foundation Africa, Wilderness Foundation UK, and the WILD Foundation (USA), with the Wilderness Leadership School (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) as a patron partner. The World Wilderness Congress is a flagship project of Wilderness Foundation Global.

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