Tuesday is the first day of the Members’ Assembly at the International Union for Conservation of Nature’ World Conservation Congress at the Hawaii Convention Center.

But what exactly does that mean? Here’s what you need to know:

The IUCN is the largest conservation organization in the world. It makes decisions that can influence the environmental agenda for government agencies and nonprofits across the globe on everything from the protection of endangered species to combating climate change.

IUCN crowd sept 4 in room 310 with full house and standing room only. 4 sept 2016
The IUCN is considered one of the most influential environmental organizations in the world. It’s decisions can influence policy at the local level as well as form the basis for international treaties. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Every four years the IUCN holds a World Conservation Congress so that the organization’s more than 1,300 members can convene in one location to debate environmental policy and outline its agenda for the next four years.

That event began Thursday and is set to last until Saturday. It’s the first time in the IUCN’s 68-year history that the U.S. has hosted a World Conservation Congress. So it’s fair to say that this is a big deal.

In all, the IUCN will be taking action on 99 motions that have the potential to shape the future of global conservation efforts. While most of those motions are non-controversial and subject to online voting there are 14 that are expected to be debated over the next several days.

Some of the motions include calling for the closure of all domestic ivory markets to curb the illegal wildlife trade, placing 30 percent of the world’s oceans in marine protected areas to promote biodiversity and developing a legally binding mechanism to manage conservation on the high seas, which are lawless territories outside of national jurisdictions where overfishing and human rights abuses go unchecked.

Other motions include those encouraging IUCN members to ratify the Paris climate change agreement, developing best practices for the ecotourism industry and urging safeguards on palm oil production so as to protect forestlands and the rights of indigenous cultures.

Read the full list of motions here.

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