The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is the world’s oldest and largest conservation organization, with almost 1,300 government and NGO Members and more than 15,000 volunteer experts in 185 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by almost 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. Founded in 1948 as the world’s first global environmental organization, IUCN is the only environmental organization to have observer status at the United Nations, and it provides scientific information and advice on global conservation policy through a wide range of international forums.
IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN counts on the support of a large network of partners who help fund activities, implement the IUCN Programme, or offer their knowledge and expertise to support the work of the Union. The ICUN’s headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland and is funded by governments, bilateral and multilateral agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, international conventions, foundations, member organizations, corporations and individuals.
It is through this vast network of knowledge, action, influence and empowerment that IUCN has become the leading authority on the environment and sustainable development.
What does IUCN do?
Conserving biodiversity is central to the mission of IUCN. Demonstrating how biodiversity is fundamental to addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges such as climate change, sustainable development and food security. The IUCN provides a neutral forum for governments, NGOs, scientists, business and local communities to find practical solutions to conservation and development challenges
To deliver conservation and sustainability at both the global and local level, IUCN builds on its strengths in the following areas:
Science – 11,000 experts setting global standards in their fields, for example, the definitive international standard for species extinction risk – the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
Action – hundreds of conservation field projects and activities all over the world from the local level to those involving several countries, all aimed at the sustainable management of biodiversity and natural resources.
Influence – through the collective strength of more than 1,200 government and non-governmental member organizations, IUCN influences international environmental conventions, policies and laws.
How does IUCN work?
IUCN governance is by a Council elected by member organizations every four years at the IUCN World Conservation Congress- the general assembly of the Union’s members. The Council is comprised of the Chairs of IUCN’s six Commissions, three Regional Councilors from each of IUCN’s eight Statutory Regions, and a Councilor from the State in which IUCN has its seat (Switzerland).
The role of the IUCN Council is to set strategic direction and policy guidance for the work of the Union, provide oversight and guidance on the performance of the components of the Union as a whole and of the Director General in particular, fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities to the Members of the Union and render account to them, and support the Director General in communicating IUCN’s objectives, policy and Program to the world community.
All of IUCN’s work is framed by a Global Program, developed with and approved by IUCN member organizations every four years. IUCN’s Global Program is coordinated by IUCN’s Secretariat and delivered in conjunction with IUCN member organizations, Commissions and IUCN’s theme-based programs:
- Ecosystem management
- Environmental law
- Forest conservation
- Global policy
- Marine and polar
- Protected areas
- Science and knowledge
- Social policy
- World Heritage
The six IUCN Commissions unite 10,000 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)
CEC drives change for the co-creation of sustainable solutions through leading communication, learning and knowledge management in IUCN and the wider conservation community. Members: over 1,200
Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP)
CEESP provides expertise and policy advice on economic and social factors for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity. Members: 1465.
World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL)
WCEL advances environmental law by developing new legal concepts and instruments, and by building the capacity of societies to employ environmental law for conservation and sustainable development. Members: 800.
Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM)
CEM provides expert guidance on integrated ecosystem approaches to the management of natural and modified ecosystems. Members: 1000.
Species Survival Commission (SSC)
SSC advises the Union on the technical aspects of species conservation and mobilizes action for those species that are threatened with extinction. Members: 7500.
World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA)
WCPA promotes the establishment and effective management of a worldwide representative network of terrestrial and marine protected areas. Members: 1300.
IUCN actively contributes to a variety of international forums including: the World Parks Congress, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP meetings), and the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
The Canadian Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CCIUCN)
The Canadian Committee of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (CCIUCN) is the Canadian “arm” of IUCN. Membership is comprised of leading conservation organizations from across Canada, private companies, government agencies, Aboriginal organizations and individuals who want to support biodiversity through sustainable development nationally, regionally and internationally.
CCIUCN plays a one-of-a-kind role among Canada’s non-government organizations by
- Facilitating Canadian participation in national and international conservation issues
- Providing venues for Canadians to participate in global conservation activities and policy, including:
- Strategic priorities of the IUCN
- Motions and resolutions of the IUCN World Conservation Congress
- Specialist Commissions on:
- Economic, environment and social policy;
- Ecosystem management,
- Education and communication;
- Environmental law;
- Protected areas; and
- Species survival
Addressing Canadian environmental issues consistent with IUCN goals, CCIUCN provides venues to consult on domestic policy and to promote policies consistent with best practices developed by IUCN. CCIUCN also provides and mobilizes information and expert advice on important initiatives and issues within Canada that support IUCN objectives, such as:
- The National Conservation Plan
- Sustainable Development in Canada’s North
Influence is achieved through:
- Convening power to bring together leading individuals and organizations that care about biodiversity
- Communications to encourage support for sustainable development
- Science, socio-economic or other analysis to bring knowledge and expertise to complex issues
- Sharing best practices
Connecting Canadians to Nature – while individual Canadian member organizations have a wide range of programs to help better connect Canadians to nature, CCIUCN is focusing its work in this area on inspiring a new generation by strengthening the role of youth in conservation both within Canada and internationally. Within Canada the Canadian Committee is encouraging youth involvement in CCIUCN through improved outreach. Internationally, the CCIUCN is encouraging youth involvement in the IUCN through formal involvement in planning the World Conservation Congress, through input to development of the IUCN program priorities for 2017-2020, and through broad participation in the Congress.
World Parks Congress – Canadian members were well represented at this congress in November 2014. Work now will shift to following through on commitments made in The Promise of Sydney and its 12 innovative approaches, particularly the theme of inspiring a new generation.
Strengthening IUCN Governance – Through its Regional Counsellor, CCIUCN continues to support efforts to improve governance of the IUCN. Some improvements targeted include focusing the motions debated and voted on to global issues, introducing on-line moderated debates to help develop consensus on text prior to the congress, voting on non-controversial motions before congress, and by strengthening accountability to motions among members, the council, and secretariat.
Policy – Influencing and shaping global environmental policy is one of the most important functions of the IUCN. Canadian members have opportunity to provide input to key global policy documents, as well as some national issues. Last year, influencing the direction of the National Conservation Plan was a key activity. While the NCP was announced in 2014, it remains important to shape criteria and actions so the plan best meets the needs of Canadian members and to help maximize its contribution to achieving objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets.
World Conservation Congress – One of the most important roles of the Canadian Committee of the IUCN is to coordinate input from Canadians into the IUCN 2017-2020 program priorities and into motions at the World Conservation Congress in 2016.
Member Participation – Connect with others who share common goals by attending the annual general meeting; contribute to development of the IUCN strategic plan and the CCIUCN strategic plan; participate in the World Conservation Congress, participate in discussion panels on issues; and more. To provide services CCIUCN relies on support from its members and partners, including government, foundations, non-government organizations, companies, and individuals.
The Fur Institute of Canada is a member of the CCIUCN and serves on the executive committee.