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The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an
international organization An international organization (also known as an international institution or intergovernmental organization) is a stable set of norms and rules meant to govern the behavior of states and other actors in the international system. Organizations m ...
working in the field of
nature conservation Much attention has been given to preserving the natural characteristics of Hopetoun Falls, Australia, while allowing access for visitors Nature conservation is the moral philosophy and conservation movement The conservation movement, also k ...
and
sustainable use Sustainability is the capacity to endure in a relatively ongoing way across various domains of life. In the 21st century The 21st (twenty-first) century is the current century in the '' Anno Domini'' era or Common Era, in accordance with ...
of
natural resource Natural resources are resource Resource refers to all the materials available in our environment which help us to satisfy our needs and wants. Resources can broadly be classified upon their availability — they are classified into renewabl ...
s. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education. IUCN's mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable". Over the past decades, IUCN has widened its focus beyond conservation ecology and now incorporates issues related to
sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services Social forestry in India, Social ...

sustainable development
in its projects. IUCN does not itself aim to mobilize the public in support of nature conservation. It tries to influence the actions of governments, business and other stakeholders by providing information and advice, and through building partnerships. The organization is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species (also known as the IUCN Red List or Red Data Book), founded in 1964, is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global Conservation movement, conserv ...
, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide. IUCN has a membership of over 1,400 governmental and non-governmental organizations. Some 16,000 scientists and experts participate in the work of IUCN commissions on a voluntary basis. It employs approximately 1,000 full-time staff in more than 50 countries. Its headquarters are in
Gland, Switzerland Gland () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Nyon (district), Nyon in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The city also is home to the IUCN and World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF headquarters. H ...
. IUCN has
observer An observer is one who engages in observation or in watching an experiment. Observer may also refer to: Computer science and information theory * In information theory Information theory is the scientific study of the quantification, storage ...

observer
and consultative status at the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and
biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near ...

biodiversity
. It was involved in establishing the
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
and the
World Conservation Monitoring CentreThe UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is an collaboration centre of UN Environment Programme, based in Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town of Cambridgeshire, Engl ...
. In the past, IUCN has been criticized for placing the interests of nature over those of indigenous peoples. In recent years, its closer relations with the business sector have caused controversy. IUCN was established in 1948. It was initially called the International Union for the Protection of Nature and Natural Resources (1948–1956) and has also been known as the World Conservation Union (1990–2008).


History


Establishment

IUCN was established on 5 October 1948, in
Fontainebleau Fontainebleau (; ) is a commune in France, commune in the aire urbaine, metropolitan area of Paris, France. It is located south-southeast of the Kilometre Zero, centre of Paris. Fontainebleau is a Subprefectures in France, sub-prefecture of the ...

Fontainebleau
, France, when representatives of governments and conservation organizations spurred by UNESCO signed a formal act constituting the International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN). The initiative to set up the new organisation came from
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
and especially from its first Director General, the British biologist
Julian Huxley Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (22 June 1887 – 14 February 1975) was an English evolutionary biologist, eugenicist, and internationalist. He was a proponent of natural selection Natural selection is the differential survival and reprodu ...
. At the time of its founding IUPN was the only international organisation focusing on the entire spectrum of nature conservation (an international organisation for the protection of birds, now
BirdLife International BirdLife International is a global partnership of non-governmental organizations that strives to conserve birds and their habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and bio ...
, had been established in 1922).


Early years: 1948–1956

IUPN (International Union for conservation of Nature) started out with 65 members in
Brussels Brussels (french: Bruxelles or ; nl, Brussel ), officially the Brussels-Capital Region (All text and all but one graphic show the English name as Brussels-Capital Region.) (french: link=no, Région de Bruxelles-Capitale; nl, link=no, Brusse ...

Brussels
and was closely associated to UNESCO. They jointly organized the 1949 Conference on Protection of Nature Lake Success, USA, and drafted the first list of Gravely endangered species. In the early years of its existence IUCN depended almost entirely on UNESCO funding and was forced to temporarily scale down activities when this ended unexpectedly in 1954. IUPN was successful in engaging prominent scientists and identifying important issues such as the harmful effects of
pesticide Pesticides are substances that are meant to control pest (organism), pests. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides (which may include insect growth regulators, termiticides, etc.) nematicide, molluscicide, pi ...
s on wildlife but not many of the ideas it developed were turned into action. This was caused by unwillingness to act on the part of governments, uncertainty about the IUPN mandate and lack of resources. In 1956, IUPN changed its name to International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.


Increased profile and recognition: 1956–1965

During this period, the IUCN expanded its relations with UN-agencies and established links with the
Council of Europe The Council of Europe (CoE; french: Conseil de l'Europe, ) is an international organisation ''International Organization'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal that covers the entire field of international relations, international aff ...

Council of Europe
. IUCN's best known publication, the Red Data Book on the conservation status of species, was first published in 1964. IUCN began to play a part in the development of international treaties and conventions, starting with the
African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources The African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (known also as Algiers Convention) is a continent-wide agreement signed in 1968 in Algiers Algiers ( ; ar, الجزائر; Berber language, Berber: ''Dzayer;'' French ...
. Africa was the focus of many of the early IUCN conservation field projects. IUCN supported the ‘Yellowstone model’ of protected area management, which severely restricted human presence and activity in order to protect nature. The IUCN also suffered from restricted financing in its early years. For this reason,
Tracy Philipps James Erasmus Tracy Philipps (20 November 1888 – 21 July 1959) was a British public servant. Pursuing a complex, multi-faceted career, he was in various guises a soldier, colonial administrator, traveller, journalist, propagandist, conservatio ...
, Secretary-General from 1955 to 1958, did not draw a salary during his period in office. To establish a stable financial basis for its work, IUCN participated in setting up the World Wildlife Fund (1961) (now the
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
WWF) to work on fundraising to cover part of the operational costs of IUCN. Also in 1961, the IUCN headquarters moved from Belgium to
Morges Morges (; la, Morgiis, Plurale tantum, plural, probably Ablative (Latin), ablative, else dative) is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the Switzerland, Swiss Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud and the seat of the Morges (distr ...

Morges
in Switzerland.


Consolidating its position in the international environmental movement: 1966–1975

During the 1960s, IUCN lobbied the UN General Assembly to create a new status for
NGOs upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch of the "Europe in a suitcase" project by two NGOs (the EGI and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation), which aims to increase ...
. Resolution 1296, adopted in 1968, granted 'consultative' status to NGOs. IUCN itself was eventually accredited with six UN organizations. IUCN was one of the few environmental organisations formally involved in the preparations of the
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community * United, West Virginia, an unincorporated community Arts and entertainment Films * United (2003 film), ''United'' (2003 film), a Norwegian film * United (2011 film), ...
(Stockholm, 1972). The Stockholm Conference eventually led to three new international conventions, with IUCN involved in their drafting and implementation: * Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). IUCN co-drafted the World Heritage Convention with UNESCO and has been involved as the official Advisory Body on nature from the onset. /sup> *
CITES CITES (shorter name for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty A multilateral treaty is a treaty to which two or more sovereign stat ...

CITES
- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1974). IUCN is a signatory party and the CITES secretariat was originally lodged with IUCN. *
Ramsar Convention The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after th ...

Ramsar Convention
– Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (1975). The secretariat is still administered from IUCN's headquarters. IUCN entered into an agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme
UNEP The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong Maurice Frederick Strong, (April 29, 1929 – November 27, 201 ...
to provide regular reviews of world conservation. The income this generated, combined with growing revenue via WWF, put the organisation on relatively sound financial footing for the first time since 1948. This period saw the beginning of a gradual change in IUCN's approach to conservation in which it tried to become more appealing to the developing world.


The World Conservation Strategy 1975–1985

In 1975 IUCN started work on the ''World Conservation Strategy''. The drafting process – and the discussions with the UN agencies involved – led to an evolution in thinking within IUCN and growing acceptance of the fact that conservation of nature by banning human presence no longer worked. The Strategy was followed in 1982 by the '' World Charter for Nature'', which was adopted by the
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), serving as the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN. Its ...
, after preparation by IUCN. In 1980, IUCN and WWF moved into shared new offices in
Gland, Switzerland Gland () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Nyon (district), Nyon in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The city also is home to the IUCN and World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF headquarters. H ...
. This marked a phase of closer cooperation with WWF, but the close ties between IUCN and WWF were severed in 1985 when WWF decided to take control of its own field projects, which so far had been run by IUCN. Sustainable development and regionalisation: 1985 to present day
In 1982, IUCN set up a Conservation for Development Centre within its secretariat. The Centre undertook projects to ensure that nature conservation was integrated in development aid and in the economic policies of developing countries. Over the years, it supported the development of national conservation strategies in 30 countries. Several European countries began to channel considerable amounts of bilateral aid via IUCN's projects. Management of these projects was primarily done by IUCN staff, often working from the new regional and country offices IUCN set up around the world. This marked a shift within the organisation. Previously, the volunteer Commissions had been very influential, now the Secretariat and its staff began to play a more dominant role. In 1989, IUCN moved into a separate building in Gland, close to the offices it had shared with WWF. Initially, the focus of power was still with the Headquarters in Gland but the regional offices and regional members’ groups gradually got a bigger say in operations. In 1991, IUCN (together with UNEP and WWF) published ''Caring for the Earth'', a successor to the World Conservation Strategy. Social aspects of conservation were now integrated in IUCN's work; at the General Assembly in 1994 the IUCN mission was redrafted to its current wording to include the equitable and ecologically use of natural resources. Closer to business: 2000 to present day
Since the creation of IUCN in 1948, IUCN Members have passed more than 300 resolutions that include or focus on business related activities. The increased attention on sustainable development as a means to protect nature brought IUCN closer to the corporate sector. The members decided against this, but IUCN did forge a partnership with the
World Business Council for Sustainable Development The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization of over 200 multinational company, international companies. The Council is also connected to 60 national and regional business councils and partner organiza ...
. IUCN renewed a multi-year MOU (
Memorandum of understanding A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is a type of agreement between two (bilateralism, bilateral) or more (multilateralism, multilateral) parties. It expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action ...
) with WBCSD in December 2015. In 1996, after decades of seeking to address specific business issues, IUCN's Members asked for a comprehensive approach to engaging the business sector. Resolution 1.81 of the IUCN World Conservation Congress held that year "urged IUCN Members and the Director General, based on the need to influence private sector policies in support of the Mission of IUCN, to expand dialogue and productive relationships with the private sector and find new ways to interact with members of the business community". The IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Program (BBP) was established in 2003 to influence and support private partners in addressing environmental and social issues. In 2004, the first IUCN Private Sector Engagement Strategy was developed (in response to Council Decision C/58/41). Most prominent in the Business and Biodiversity Program is the five-year collaboration IUCN started with the energy company
Shell International Royal Dutch Shell, commonly known as Shell, is an Anglo-Dutch Multinational corporation, multinational petroleum, oil and natural gas, gas company headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and Incorporation (business)#Incorporation in the United K ...
in 2007. IUCN has been involved in minimum energy consumption and zero-carbon construction since 2005 by integrating energy-saving materials, developed by Jean-Luc Sandoz in the footsteps of . Today, the Business and Biodiversity Programme continues to set the strategic direction, coordinate IUCN's overall approach and provide institutional quality assurance in all business engagements. The Programme ensures that the Business Engagement Strategy is implemented through IUCN's global thematic and regional programmes as well as helps guide the work of IUCN's six Commissions.


Championing Nature-based Solutions: 2009 to present day

Nature-based solutions Nature-based solutions (NBS) refers to the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling socio-environmental challenges. The challenges include issues such as climate change Climate change includes both global warming driven ...
(NbS) use ecosystems and the services they provide to address societal challenges such as climate change, food security or natural disasters. The emergence of the NbS concept in environmental sciences and nature conservation contexts came as international organisations, such as IUCN and the World Bank, searched for solutions to work with ecosystems rather than relying on conventional engineering interventions (such as a
seawall A seawall (or sea wall) is a form of coastal defence constructed where the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers appro ...

seawall
), to adapt to and mitigate climate change effects, while improving sustainable livelihoods and protecting natural ecosystems and biodiversity. At the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016, IUCN Members agreed on a definition of nature-based solutions. Members also called for governments to include nature-based solutions in strategies to combat climate change.


Timeline

Some key dates in the growth and development of IUCN: * 1948: International Union for the Protection of Nature (IUPN) established * 1956: Name changed to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) * 1959: UNESCO decides to create an international list of Nature Parks and equivalent reserves, and the United Nations Secretary General asks the IUCN to prepare this list * 1961: The
World Wildlife Fund In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the worl ...
set up as a complementary organisation to focus on fund raising, public relations, and increasing public support for nature conservation * 1969: IUCN obtains a grant from the
Ford Foundation The Ford Foundation is an American private foundation with the stated goal of advancing human welfare. Created in 1936 by Edsel Ford and his father Henry Ford, it was originally funded by a US$25,000 gift from Edsel Ford. By 1947, after the death ...
which enables it to boost its international secretariat. * 1972: UNESCO adopts the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the IUCN is invited to provide technical evaluations and monitoring * 1974: IUCN is involved in obtaining the agreement of its members to sign a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (
CITES CITES (shorter name for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty A multilateral treaty is a treaty to which two or more sovereign stat ...

CITES
), whose secretariat was originally lodged with the IUCN * 1975: The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (
Ramsar Convention The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands. It is named after th ...

Ramsar Convention
) comes into force, and its secretariat is administered from the IUCN's headquarters * 1980: IUCN (together with the
United Nations Environment Programme The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong Maurice Frederick Strong, (April 29, 1929 – November 27, 20 ...
and the
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
) collaborate with UNESCO to publish a World Conservation Strategy * 1982: Following IUCN preparation and efforts, the
United Nations General Assembly The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA or GA; french: link=no, Assemblée générale, AG) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations (UN), serving as the main deliberative, policymaking, and representative organ of the UN. Its ...
adopts the World Charter for Nature * 1990: Began using the name World Conservation Union as the official name, while continuing using IUCN as its abbreviation. * 1991: IUCN (together with
United Nations Environment Programme The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is responsible for coordinating responses to environmental issues within the United Nations system. It was established by Maurice Strong Maurice Frederick Strong, (April 29, 1929 – November 27, 20 ...
and the
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
) publishes ''Caring for the Earth'' * 2003: Establishment of the IUCN Business and Biodiversity Program * 2008: Stopped using World Conservation Union as its official name and reverted its name back to International Union for Conservation of Nature * 2012: IUCN publishes list of The world's 100 most threatened species. * 2016: Created a new IUCN membership category for indigenous peoples’ organisations.


Current work


IUCN Programme 2017–2020

According to its website, IUCN works on the following themes: business,
climate change Contemporary climate change includes both the global warming caused by humans, and its impacts on Earth's weather patterns. There have been previous periods of climate change, but the current changes are more rapid than any known even ...
, economics,
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
,
environmental law Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental Legal doctrine, legal principles, focus ...
, forest conservation,
gender Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between femininity Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is ...

gender
, global policy,
marine Marine is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the sea or ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
and
polar Polar may refer to: Geography Polar may refer to: * Geographical pole, either of two fixed points on the surface of a rotating body or planet, at 90 degrees from the equator, based on the axis around which a body rotates *Polar climate, the clim ...
,
protected areas Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the ena ...
, science and knowledge,
social policy Social policy is policy A policy is a deliberate system of principles to guide decisions and achieve rational outcomes. A policy is a statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol. Policies are generally adopted by a gov ...
,
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
, water and
world heritage A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for ha ...
. IUCN works on the basis of four-year programs, determined by the membership. In the IUCN Programme for 2017–2020 conserving nature and biodiversity is linked to sustainable development and poverty reduction. IUCN states that it aims to have a solid factual base for its work and takes into account the knowledge held by indigenous groups and other traditional users of natural resources. The IUCN Programme 2017–2020 identifies three priority areas: #Valuing and conserving nature. #Promoting and supporting effective and equitable governance of natural resources #Deploying Nature Based Solutions to address societal challenges including climate change, food security and economic and social development. IUCN does not itself aim to directly mobilize the general public. Education has been part of IUCN's work program since the early days but the focus is on stakeholder involvement and strategic communication rather than mass-campaigns.


Habitats and species

IUCN runs field projects for
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...
and species conservation around the world. It produces the
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species The International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization An internationa ...
and the
IUCN Red List of Ecosystems The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is a global framework for monitoring and documenting the status of ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their en ...
. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems is applicable at local, national, regional and global levels. IUCN's stated goal is to expand the global network of
national parks#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi-natural, or developed land that a sovereign state dec ...

national parks
and other
protected areas Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the ena ...
and promote good management of such areas. In particular, it focuses on greater protection of the
oceans The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
oceans
and
marine habitats Marine habitats are habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are present in an area, such as to support the survival and reproduction of a parti ...
.


Business partnerships

IUCN has a growing program of partnerships with the corporate sector on a regional, national, and international level to promote sustainable use of natural resources.


National and international policy

On the national level, IUCN helps governments prepare national biodiversity policies. Internationally, IUCN provides advice to environmental conventions such as the
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
,
CITES CITES (shorter name for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, also known as the Washington Convention) is a multilateral treaty A multilateral treaty is a treaty to which two or more sovereign stat ...

CITES
and the
Framework Convention on Climate Change The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * ''International'' (Kevin Mic ...
. It advises
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
on natural
world heritage A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
.
It has a formally accredited permanent observer mission to the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
.
IUCN has official relations with the multiple other international bodies.


Organizational structure

As an organization, IUCN has three components: the member organizations, the six scientific commissions, and the secretariat.


Members

IUCN Members are states (making IUCN a supranational
GONGO A government-organized non-governmental organization (GONGO) is a non-governmental organization that was set up or sponsored by a government in order to further its political interests and mimic the civic groups and civil society at home, or promote ...
), government agencies, international nongovernmental organizations, national nongovernmental organizations, and indigenous peoples’ organisations. In 2017, IUCN had 1400 members. The members can organize themselves in national or regional committees to promote cooperation. In 2016, there were 62 national committees and 7 regional committees.


Commissions

The six IUCN Commissions involve volunteer experts from a range of disciplines. They 'assess the state of the world's natural resources and provide the Union with sound know-how and policy advice on conservation issues'. * Commission on Education and Communication (CEC): communication, learning and knowledge management in IUCN and the wider conservation community. * Commission on Environmental, Economic, and Social Policy (CEESP): economic and social factors for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. * World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL): developing new legal concepts and instruments, and building the capacity of societies to employ environmental law for conservation and sustainable development. * Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM): integrated ecosystem approaches to the management of natural and modified ecosystems. * Species Survival Commission (SSC): technical aspects of species conservation and action for species that are threatened with
extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinction
. Specialist groups of the SSC prepare endangered species recovery plans known as Species Action Plans, which are used to outline the conservation strategies of species. *
World Commission on Protected Areas The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is one of six commissions of the International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature a ...
(WCPA): establishment and effective management of a network of terrestrial and marine protected areas.


Secretariat

The IUCN head office is in
Gland, Switzerland Gland () is a Municipalities of Switzerland, municipality in the district of Nyon (district), Nyon in the Cantons of Switzerland, canton of Vaud in Switzerland. The city also is home to the IUCN and World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF headquarters. H ...
. Eight regional offices headed by a director implement IUCN's program in their respective territories. Since 1980, IUCN has established offices in more than 50 countries.


Governance and funding


Governance

The World Conservation Congress (Members’ Assembly) is IUCN's highest decision-making body. The Congress convenes every four years. It elects the council, including the President, and approves IUCN's workprogram for the next four years, and budget. The IUCN Council is the principal governing body of IUCN. The Council provides strategic direction for the activities of the Union, discusses specific policy issues and provides guidance on finance and the membership development of the Union. The council is composed of the President, four Vice Presidents (elected by the council from among its members), the Treasurer, the Chairs of IUCN's six Commissions, three Regional Councillors from each of IUCN's eight Statutory Regions and a Councillor from the State in which IUCN has its seat (Switzerland). IUCN's current President is Zhang Xinsheng. The Council appoints a Director General, who is responsible for the overall management of IUCN and the running of the Secretariat. The current IUCN Director General is Bruno Oberle. He succeeded Inger Andersen. File:Jean-Paul Harroy.jpg, File:Portrait of tracy philipps.jpg,
Tracy Philipps James Erasmus Tracy Philipps (20 November 1888 – 21 July 1959) was a British public servant. Pursuing a complex, multi-faceted career, he was in various guises a soldier, colonial administrator, traveller, journalist, propagandist, conservatio ...
File:Hugh Elliott 1 red.jpg, Hugh Elliott File:Achim Steiner Oxford Martin School.jpg,
Achim Steiner Achim Steiner (born 17 May 1961) is an environmentalist, of Brazilian-German ancestry, who currently serves as the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Before joining UNDP, he was Executive Director of the United Nations En ...
File:Inger Andersen (environmentalist, 2010, cropped).jpg, Inger Andersen
;IUCN Presidents since 1948Hesselink, Frits; Čeřovský, Jan:
Learning to Change the Future
'', IUCN 2008, p. 22. URL retrieved 2011-01-24.
* 1948–1954 Charles Jean Bernard * 1954–1958
Roger Heim Roger Heim (February 12, 1900 – September 17, 1979) was a French botanist specialising in mycology and tropical phytopathology. He was known for his studies describing the anatomy of the mushroom hymenium, the systematics and phylogeny of higher ...
* 1958–1963 Jean Georges Baer * 1963–1966 François Bourlière * 1966–1972 Harold J. Coolidge * 1972–1978 Donald Kuenen * 1978–1984 Mohamed Kassas * 1984–1990
M. S. Swaminathan Mankombu Sambasivan Swaminathan (born 7 August 1925) is an Indian geneticist and administrator, known for his role in India's Green Revolution in India, Green Revolution, a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice were planted ...
* 1990–1994
Shridath Ramphal Sir Shridath Surendranath Ramphal (born 3 October 1928), often known as Sir Sonny Ramphal, is a Guyana, Guyanese politician who was the second Commonwealth Secretary-General, holding the position from 1975 to 1990. He was also the foreign minist ...
* 1994–1996 Jay D. Hair * 1996–2004 Yolanda Kakabadse * 2004–2008 * 2008–2012 Ashok Khosla * 2012–2021 Zhang Xinsheng * 2021- Razan Al Mubarak ;IUCN Directors General since 1948 * 1948–1955 Jean Paul Harroy * 1955–1958
Tracy Philipps James Erasmus Tracy Philipps (20 November 1888 – 21 July 1959) was a British public servant. Pursuing a complex, multi-faceted career, he was in various guises a soldier, colonial administrator, traveller, journalist, propagandist, conservatio ...
* 1959–1960 M.C. Bloemers * 1961–1962 Gerald Watterson * 1963–1966 Hugh Elliott * 1966–1970 Joe Berwick * 1970–1976 Gerardo Budowski * 1977–1980 David Munro * 1980–1982 Lee M. Talbot * 1983–1988 Kenton Miller * 1988–1994
Martin Holdgate Sir Martin Wyatt Holdgate (born 14 January 1931 in Horsham, England) is an English biologist and environmental scientist. Early life Holdgate was born in Horsham, England on 14 January 1931, grew up in Blackpool, and was educated at Arnold Schoo ...
* 1994–1999 David McDowell * 1999–2001 Marita Koch-Weser * 2001–2006
Achim Steiner Achim Steiner (born 17 May 1961) is an environmentalist, of Brazilian-German ancestry, who currently serves as the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Before joining UNDP, he was Executive Director of the United Nations En ...
* 2007–2014 Julia Marton-Lefèvre * 2015–2019 Inger Andersen * 2019–present Bruno Oberle


Funding

IUCN's total income in 2012 was 114 million CHF, equaling approximately 95 million Euro or 116 million US dollar.
IUCN's funding mainly comes from Official Development Assistance budgets of bilateral and multilateral agencies. This represented 61% of its income in 2012. Additional sources of income are the membership fees, as well as grants and project funding from foundations, institutions and corporations.


Influence and criticism


Influence

IUCN is considered one of the most influential conservation organisations and, together with
World Wide Fund for Nature The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is an international non-governmental organization An international non-governmental organization (INGO) is an organization which is independent of government involvement and extends the concept of a non-go ...
(WWF) and the
World Resources Institute The World Resources Institute (WRI) is a global research non-profit organization established in 1982 with funding from the MacArthur Foundation The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private foundation A private foundation i ...
(WRI), is seen as a driving force behind the rise of the influence of environmental organisations at the UN and around the world. It has established a worldwide network of governmental and non-governmental organisations, involves experts in the IUCN Commissions, has formal ties to international agreements and intergovernmental organisations and increasingly also partnerships with international business. The World Conservation Congress and the World Parks Congress events organised by IUCN are the largest gatherings of organisations and individuals involved in conservation worldwide. According to some, IUCN has considerable influence in defining what nature conservation actually is. The
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species The International Union for Conservation of Nature The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN; officially International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) is an international organization An internationa ...
and the
IUCN Red List of Ecosystems The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is a global framework for monitoring and documenting the status of ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their en ...
determine which species and natural areas merit protection. Through the Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas and the system of
IUCN protected area categories Image:IUCN logo.svg, IUCN Logo IUCN protected area categories, or IUCN protected area management categories, are categories used to classify protected areas in a system developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The en ...
IUCN influences how protected areas are managed.


Criticism

It has been claimed that the IUCN puts the needs of nature above those of humans, disregarding economic considerations and the interests of indigenous peoples and other traditional users of the land. Until the 1980s IUCN favored the "Yellowstone Model" of conservation which called for the removal of humans from protected areas. The expulsion of the
Maasai people The Maasai () are a Nilotic The Nilotic peoples are peoples indigenous to the Nile Valley who speak Nilotic languages. They inhabit South Sudan South Sudan (), officially known as the Republic of South Sudan, is a landlocked country ...

Maasai people
from
Serengeti National Park The Serengeti National Park is a large national park#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, semi ...

Serengeti National Park
and the
Ngorongoro Conservation Area The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (, ) is a protected area Protected areas or conservation areas are locations which receive protection because of their recognized natural, ecological or cultural values. There are several kinds of protecte ...
is perhaps the best known example of this approach. This is linked to another criticism that has been directed at IUCN, namely that throughout its history it has mainly been ‘Northern focused’, i.e. had a West-European or North-American perspective on global conservation. Some critics point to the fact that many individuals involved in the establishment of IUCN had been leading figures in the British Society for the Preservation of the Wild Fauna of Empire, which wanted to protect species against the impact of ‘native’ hunting pressure in order to safeguard hunting by Europeans. The fact that, at least until the 1990s, most of IUCN staff, the chairs of the Commissions and the IUCN President came from western countries has also led to criticism. More recently, activist environmental groups have argued that IUCN is too closely associated with governmental organisations and with the commercial sector. IUCN's cooperation with
Shell Shell may refer to: Architecture and design * Shell (structure)A shell is a type of structural element which is characterized by its geometry, being a three-dimensional solid whose thickness is very small when compared with other dimensions, and ...
came in for criticism, also from its own membership. IUCN's close partnership with
Coca-Cola Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated Carbonation is the chemical reaction A chemical reaction is a process that leads to the chemical transformation of one set of chemical substances to another. Classically, chemical A chemical sub ...

Coca-Cola
in Vietnam – where they have together been launching Coca-Cola-focused community centers – has also drawn some criticism and allegations of
greenwashing Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on " whitewash"), also called "green sheen", is a form of marketing spin in which green PR (green values) and green marketing are deceptively used to persuade the public that an organization's products, a ...

greenwashing
. Its decision to hold the 2012 World Conservation Congress on
Jeju Island Jeju Island (; ) is the largest island in South Korea South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea (ROK), is a country in East Asia, constituting the southern part of the Korea, Korean Peninsula and sharing a Korean Demilitarized Z ...

Jeju Island
, South Korea, where the local community and international environmental activists were protesting against the construction of a navy base also led to controversy.


Publications

IUCN has a wide range of publications, reports, guidelines and databases (including the
Global Invasive Species DatabaseThe Global Invasive Species Database is a database of invasive species around the world run by the Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It publishes the list 100 of the World's Worst Invasive ...
) related to conservation and
sustainable development Sustainable development is the organizing principle for meeting human development goals while simultaneously sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services Social forestry in India, Social ...

sustainable development
. It publishes or co-authors more than 100 books and major assessments every year, along with hundreds of reports, documents and guidelines. In 2015, 76 IUCN articles were published in peer reviewed scientific journals. A report, released at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney on 12 November 2014 showed that the 209,000 conservation reserves around the world now cover 15.4 per cent of the total land area. This is a step towards protecting 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean environments on Earth by 2020 since an agreement between the world's nations at the
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
, held in Japan in 2010.


See also

*
List of environmental organizations An environmental organization is an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comprising one or more peopl ...
* List of conservation organisations


Notes


References


External links

*
IUCN and UNEP World Database on Protected Areas

Red List of Threatened Species

Red List of Ecosystems

IUCN publicationsInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature oral history interview (Prof. Pimlott's remarks)
held at th
University of Toronto Archives and Records Management Services
{{DEFAULTSORT:International Union For Conservation Of Nature International environmental organizations Nature conservation organizations International forestry organizations Scientific organizations established in 1948 Environmental conservation United Nations General Assembly observers Intergovernmental environmental organizations 1948 establishments in France International organisations based in Switzerland