Calliope and Sustainability – Contributing to a Green Congress

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature held its World Conservation Congress in Honolulu from August 31 to September 10 this year. Once again, Calliope was asked to supply the numerous interpreters needed to facilitate the Congress discussions and debates. For Calliope, as mediators of culture and diversity, it was only natural to wish to contribute to this endeavour.

Today’s Environmental Reality

The number of wild animals living on Earth is set to fall by two-thirds by 2020, according to a new report of the Living Planet Index, part of a mass extinction that is destroying the natural world.

The Congress

This concern was top of mind for the delegates at the World Conservation Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature held in Hawai’i this September. This event has grown to be one of the world’s largest and most democratic conservation events, bringing the expertise and influence of its powerful membership to bear on the most pressing environmental issues of our times. Two highlights of this year’s event were the addition of the gorilla as critically endangered on the IUCN’s “Red List” of threatened species and a motion on banning the sale of ivory on national markets.

Some 6,000 delegates from 170 countries attended this global event. Together they grappled with the enormous and vital task of setting the direction for future conservation efforts. This exercise in international cooperation is difficult enough in itself, without the added complication of communication between peoples speaking many different languages. This is where Calliope plays an important role. 

David Ige, Governor of Hawai’i and IUCN officials at the WCC

The Calliope Service

Calliope-Interpreters has had the honour of working for the IUCN at the two previous World Conservation Congresses and was particularly proud to be chosen to provide the simultaneous interpretation service at the WCC once again, and hence to have a further opportunity to help the international community build a better future for our planet.

Just as struggling with issues of environmental sustainability is no mean feat, neither is it easy to bring together a multilingual team of conference interpreters, especially in a location such as Honolulu. The IUCN required translation in up to 6 different rooms and in 3 languages – English, French and Spanish and, with a view to securing the highest quality service, had stipulated that all the interpreters had to be members of the International Association of Conference Interpreters. Since there are no AIIC interpreters based in Hawai’i, the 36 members of the Calliope team had to be brought in from elsewhere.

Selection and Recruitment Under the Banner of Sustainability

Successful communication via simultaneous translation doesn’t just happen overnight. In this case, the preparation began a year before the event. We started by carefully defining the client’s needs, then identifying and recruiting the interpreters according to several criteria: membership of AIIC, language combination, experience and proximity to Hawai’i. Under the banner of sustainability, we struck a careful balance between proximity and experience. With a view to limiting our carbon footprint while guaranteeing the best quality interpretation possible, we first recruited the professionals based on the West Coast of the United States, then extended our search across the North American continent. This was made easy thanks to the guidance of the Calliope members for the USA and Canada. The experience side of the equation was assured, since each team was headed up by a member of Calliope, many of whom had worked in Barcelona or Jeju, venues for the last 2 editions of the WCC.

Whilst most of the logistical and preparatory work was done well in advance, our chief interpreter was on the spot during the entire meeting to deal with last minute requests and unexpected situations. Despite our best efforts, much of the documentation was only available at the very last minute. Thanks to the team leaders’ professionalism and tireless efforts, most of the presentations were in the hands of the interpreters prior to the start of each session, enabling them to offer a quality service and guaranteeing seamless communication. When taking stock at the end of the meeting, we were glad to note that the majority of the team members had contributed to the carbon offset fund.

Calliope-Interpreters is indeed proud to have played a role in contributing to the success of this all-important environmental event. We hope to have the opportunity of being a part of the 2020 World Conservation Congress.

It was a real pleasure working with you once again and also thank you very much to you and your excellent team for your support, understanding and flexibility.” 
E. Lahmann, IUCN Global Director, Union Development Group

A full house at the IUCN General Assembly

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