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A side-event on rhino conservation will showcase how South Africa has boosted its efforts to protect this endangered species.

World Environment Day at the Zoo
Green Wall of Africa Chairperson Irene Huysamen speaks to kids at Joburg Zoo about the importance of saving rhinos on World Environment Day, 5 June 2014

A SOUTH African delegation led by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa is attending the 6th World Parks Congress in Australia.

The South African delegation comprises government officials, representatives of conservation management authorities, South African National Parks (SANParks) and the People and Parks Programme, NGOs, universities, the business sector and local communities.

The theme for the 2014 Congress, taking place at the Sydney Olympic Park, is "Parks, People Planet: Inspiring Solutions". The congress, which started on Wednesday, will end on 19 November.

South Africa, as hosts of the previous Congress, participated in the symbolic handover of a torch to the Congress host during the opening.

The Durban Action, adopted at the end of the 5th Congress in Durban in 2003, was accepted by the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of Parties as the Programme of Work on Protected Areas.

South Africa was also scheduled to host a side event on rhino conservation on Thursday, 13 November, showcasing how the country has boosted its efforts to protect this endangered species, and highlighting the challenges posed by the global illegal wildlife trade.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Affairs said the World Parks Congress had, over the years, "influenced the perspectives of many people on the role of protected areas in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

"Each congress has been vital to conservation policy worldwide, addressing global challenges and opportunities, and establishing standards to ensure that protected areas are effective and are sources of inspiration and innovation for the following decade."

Deputy Environmental Affairs Minister Barbara Thomson said the management of natural resources in a diverse and developing country was a tremendous responsibility.

"It requires innovative solutions, youth-centred policies, sustainable financing as well as harnessing strategic partnerships to unlock opportunity - all the while mindful of the need to balance the developmental needs of that country with conservation."