Hawaii was front and center in the eyes of environmentalists the world over as thousands of attendees gathered for the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Honolulu from September 1 – 10 at the Waikiki Convention Center.

This marked the first time that the event was being held in the United States, and attendees were treated to a colorful show of Native Hawaiian culture, along with a laundry list of environmentally-friendly actions being taken at the local level.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to expand the Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument in the northern Hawaiian Islands was received warmly. Also eliciting cheers was Hawaii Governor David Ige, who welcomed the attendees with a warning about the danger of climate change, and its effect on the food supply and the environment.

Ige announced two initiatives to protect the waters on and surrounding the islands. Ige declared that the state would protect at least 30 percent of the state’s highest-priority watersheds by 2030, and pledged to, in his words, “effectively manage” near-shore waters by 2030 as well.

Statistics show that only two percent of the world’s waters are protected, and marine experts say that figure needs to increase to at least 30 percent to ensure the survivability of fish stocks and other species.