International Union for Conservation of Nature
|Founded||October 1948, Fontainebleau, France|
|Focus||Nature conservation, biodiversity, Nature-based solutions|
|Key people||Julia Marton-Lefèvre (Director General)
Zhang Xinsheng (President)
|Employees||Over 1,000 (worldwide)|
|Mission||Influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable|
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It was established in 1948. In the past, it has been called the International Union for Protection of Nature (1948-1956) and the World Conservation Union (1990 - 2008).
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.” It has a membership of over 1200 governmental and non-governmental organisations. Some 11,000 scientists and experts participate in the work of IUCN commissions on a voluntary basis.
IUCN is involved in data-analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, lobbying and education. Initially its operations were almost exclusively grounded in conservation ecology. Over the past decades, the organisation has widened its scope and now incorporates aspects such as gender equality, poverty alleviation and sustainable business in its activities. IUCN has observer and consultative status at the United Nations, and plays a role in the implementation of several international conventions on nature conservation and biodiversity. It is best known to the wider public for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.
Unlike other international conservation NGOs, IUCN does not directly aim to mobilise the public in support of conservation. It wants to influence the actions of governments and business by providing advice based in science, as well as through lobbying and partnerships. In recent years its partnerships with actors from the business sector including Royal Dutch Shell have exposed IUCN to criticism.
IUCN latest initiative, launched at the World Parks Congress in Sydney (2014), is the Green List of protected areas. The Green List of protected areas will offer a rating system for reserves and parks and will recognise those that are setting a high standard for protected area management.
IUCN employs approximately 1000 full-time staff in more than 60 countries. Its headquarters are in Gland, Switzerland. It has been involved in establishing the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
IUCN was established on October 5, 1948, in Fontainebleau, France, where representatives of governments and conservation organisations signed a formal act constituting the International Union for Protection of Nature (IUPN). It is considered to be the first GONGO, i.e. Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisation. The initiative to set up the new organisation came from UNESCO and especially from its first Director General, the British biologist Julian Huxley. The objectives of the new Union were to encourage international cooperation in the protection of nature, to promote national and international action and to compile, analyse and distribute information. 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, had been founded in 1922.)
Early years: 1948 -1956
IUPN started out with 65 members. Its secretariat was located in Brussels. The first years saw the development of a work program focused on saving species and habitats, increasing and applying knowledge, advancing education, promoting international agreements and promoting conservation.Providing a solid scientific base for conservation action was the heart of all activities and the first Commissions were set up to involve experts and scientists.
IUPN was not formally part of UNESCO but the two organisations were closely associated. They jointly organized the 1949 Conference on Protection of Nature (Lake Success, USA). In preparation for this conference a list of gravely endangered species was drawn up for the first time, a precursor of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. In the early years of its existence IUPN depended almost entirely on UNESCO funding and was forced to temporarily scale down activities when this ended unexpectedly in 1954.
Although IUPN was successful in engaging prominent scientists and identifying important issues, not many of the ideas it developed were turned into action. This was caused by unwillingness to act on the part of governments, unclarity about the mandate of the Union 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
The 1950s and 1960s saw global political change: Europe entered a period of economic growth and formal colonies became independent. Both developments had impact on the work of IUCN. Through the voluntary (i.e. pro bono) involvement of experts in its Commissions IUCN was able to get a lot of work done while still operating on a low budget. It expanded its relations with UN-agencies and established links with the Council of Europe. In 1961, at the request of ECOSOC, the United Nations Economic and Social Council, IUCN published the first global list of national parks and protected areas which is has updated ever since.
IUCN played a role in the development of international treaties and conventions, starting with the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Environmental law and policy making became a new area of expertise.
Africa became the focus of many of its conservation projects. IUCN supported the ‘Yellowstone model’ of protected area management, which severely restricted human presence and activity. This model was initially also applied in Africa and played a role in the decision to remove the Maasai from Serengeti National Park in 1951. IUCN and other conservation organisations were criticized for protecting nature against people rather than with people.
To establish a stable financial basis for its work, IUCN was involved in setting up the World Wildlife Fund (1961) (now the World Wide Fund for Nature WWF). WWF would work on fundraising, public relations, and increasing public support. IUCN would continue to focus on providing sound science and data, and developing ties with international bodies. Funds raised by WWF would be used to cover part of the operational costs of IUCN. In 1961, IUCN headquarters also moved from Belgium to Morges in Switzerland.
Consolidating its position in the international environmental movement: 1966 - 1975
Public concerns about the state of the environment in the sixties and seventies led to the establishment of new NGOs, some of which (e.g. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) also worked globally. Often these new organisations were more activist and critical of government than IUCN. IUCN remained committed to providing science-based advice to governments and other parties involved in conservation. As a result it was criticized by some as old-fashioned and irrelevant.
IUCN’s membership grew (from 200 in 1961 to 400 in 1974) and its formal standing and influence increased. A grant from the Ford Foundation in 1969 enabled it to boost its secretariat and expand operations. During the 1960s, IUCN lobbied the UN General Assembly to create a new status for NGOs. Resolution 1296, adopted in 1968, granted 'consultative' status to NGOs. IUCN itself was eventually accredited with six UN organizations.  IUCN was one the few NGOs formally involved in the preparations of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972). The Stockholm Conference eventually led to three new international conventions, with IUCN involved in their drafting and their implementation:
- Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972). IUCN provides technical evaluations and monitoring
- CITES- the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (1974) IUCN was a signatory party and the CITES secretariat was originally lodged with IUCN
- Ramsar Convention - Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (1975). The secretariat is administered from IUCN's headquarters.
IUCN also entered into an agreement with the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP to provide a regular review 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. Ensuring the survival of habitats and species remained its key objective, but there was a growing awareness that economic and social demands had to be taken into account. IUCN started to publish guidelines on sustainable development. In 1975 the IUCN General Assembly passed a resolution to retain indigenous peoples and cater for their traditional rights in National Parks and protected areas. As a result, IUCN became more appealing to organisations and governments in the developing world.
The World Conservation Strategy 1975 - 1985 
In the late seventies, between its General Assemblies in Kinshasha (1975) and Ashkabad (1978), IUCN went through a phase of turbulence in governance and management. Its work program continued to grow, in part as a result of the partnership with WWF. In 1978, IUCN was running 137 projects, largely in the global south. As a result the involvement of representatives from the developing world within the IUCN Council, Committees and staff increased.
In 1975 IUCN started work on the World Conservation Strategy. The first drafts still promoted a traditional approach to nature conservation, resulting in severe criticism from the UN agencies involved. The drafting process of the World Conservation Strategy led to an evolution in thinking within IUCN and acceptance of the fact that conservation of nature by banning human presence no longer worked. The World Conservation Strategy was launched in 35 countries simultaneously on March 5, 1980. It set out fundamental principles and objectives for conservation worldwide, and identified priorities for national and international action. It is considered one of the most influential documents in 20th century nature conservation and one of the first offical documents to introduce the concept of sustainable development. The Strategy was followed in 1982 by the World Charter for Nature, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, after preparation by IUCN.
In 1980, IUCN and WWF moved into shared new offices in Gland, Switzerland. This marked a phase of closer cooperation with WWF. It was the support of WWF that allowed IUCN to weather a financial crisis in 1980-1982. IUCN, WWF and the World Resources Institute (WRI), with whom both organizations are closely associated, are considered the driving force behind the rise of NGO influence at the UN and around the world.  The close ties between IUCN and WWF were severed in 1985 when WWF decided to take control its own field projects, which so far had been run by IUCN.
In 1989, IUCN moved into a separate building of its own, close to the offices it had shared with WWF.
Sustainable development and regionalisation: 1985 - 2000 
In 1982, IUCN set up the Conservation for Development Centre within its secretariat. The Centre undertook projects to ensure that nature conservation was integrated in development aid and in the national economic policies of developing countries. 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. Initially, the focus of power was still with the Headquarters in Gland, leading to criticism that IUCN remained northern-dominated. Gradually the regional offices and regional members’ groups got a bigger say in operations.
In spite of the increased attention for sustainable development, the protection of habitats and species remained a core activity of IUCN. Special programs were developed for Antarctica, tropical forests and wetlands. IUCN also expanded its operations in Latin America. The debate about the balance between strict nature protection and conservation through sustainable development continued within IUCN well into the 1990s.
In 1991, IUCN (together with UNEP and WWF) published Caring for the Earth, a successor to the World Conservation Strategy. It was published in the run-up to the Earth Summit, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro. The World Conservation Strategy, Caring for the Earth, and the Global Diversity Strategy (published in 1992 by UNEP, IUCN, and WRI) are considered hugely influential in shaping the global environmental agenda. They lay the foundations for the Convention on Biological Diversity, a new global treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity developed by UNEP with support from IUCN, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Agenda 21.  Social aspects of conservation were being integrated in IUCN’s work; projects began to take account of the role of women in natural resource management and the knowledge indigenous peoples have about living with and within their natural environment. 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
The increased attention on sustainable development as a means to procect nature inevitably brought IUCN closer to the corporate sector. A discussion started about cooperation with business, including the question if commercial companies could become IUCN members. The members decided against this, but IUCN did forge partnerships with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.
The IUCN Global Business and Biodiversity Programme (BBP) was established in 2003. The Programme wants to engage business sectors that have a significant impact on natural resources and livelihoods.  Most prominent in the Business and Biodlvieslty Programma is the five-year collaboration IUCN started with the energy company Shell International in 2007. With this partnership they aimed to mitigate the environmental impact of Shell operations. The partnership with Shell almost immediately came under fire from the IUCN members, especially the NGO-members who feared for IUCN’s reputation. At the World Conservation Congress (formerly the IUCN General Assembly) in Barcelona in 2008 a number of NGO-members tabled a motion to terminate the Shell contract. The proposal was supported by 60 percent of the NGO members and fewer than 20 percent of governmental members. It was narrowly defeated.  
Some key dates in the growth and development of IUCN:
- 1956: Name very soon changed from International Union for the Preservation of Nature (IUPN) to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
- 1956: IUCN creates the International Youth Federation for the Study and Conservation of Nature (IYF), which in 1983 creates Youth and Environment Europe (YEE)
- 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: After more than a decade of funding difficulties, eminent science and business personalities (including Sir Julian Huxley) decide to set up a complementary fund (the World Wildlife Fund) to focus on fund raising, public relations, and increasing public support for nature conservation
- 1969: IUCN obtains a grant from the Ford Foundation which enables it to boost, substantially, 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), whose secretariat was originally lodged with the IUCN
- 1975: The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) comes into force, and its secretariat is administered from the IUCN's headquarters
- 1980: IUCN (together with the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wide Fund for Nature) collaborate with UNESCO to publish a World Conservation Strategy
- 1982: Following IUCN preparation and efforts, the United Nations General Assembly 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. This name change proved to be short-lived.
- 1991: IUCN (together with United Nations Environment Programme and the World Wide Fund for Nature) publishes Caring for the Earth
- 2001: Establishment of the IUCN Business and Biodiversity Programme
- 2008: Stopped using World Conservation Union as its official name and reverted its name back to International Union for Conservation of Nature
- 2008: More than 6,600 leaders from government, the public sector, non-governmental organizations, business, UN agencies and social organizations attended IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona, Spain.
- 1948–1954: Charles Jean Bernard
- 1954–1958: Roger Heim
- 1958–1963: Jean Georges Baer
- 1963–1966: François Bourlière
- 1966–1972: Harold J. Coolidge
- 1972–1978: Donald Kuenen
- 1978–1984: Mohamed Kassas
- 1984–1990: Monkombu S Swaminathan
- 1990–1994: Sridath Ramphal
- 1994–1996: Jay D. Hair
- 1996–2004: Yolanda Kakabadse
- 2004–2008: Valli Moosa
- 2008–2012: Ashok Khosla
- Since 2012: Zhang Xinsheng
- 1948–1955: Jean Paul Harroy
- 1959–1960: M.C. Bloemers
- 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
- 1994–1999: David McDowell
- 1999–2001: Marita Koch-Weser
- 2001–2006: Achim Steiner
- Since 2007: Julia Marton-Lefèvre
The Union has three components: its member organizations, its six scientific commissions, and its professional secretariat.
The Union unites both States and non-governmental organizations. They set the policies of the Union, define its global programme of work and elect its Council (comparable to a company board) at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. Member organizations organize themselves into National and Regional Committees.
There are six commissions that "assess the state of the world's natural resources and provide the Union with sound know-how and policy advice on conservation issues":
WCEL advances environmental law by developing new legal concepts and instruments, as well as by building the capacity of societies to employ environmental law for conservation and sustainable development.
SSC advises the Union on the technical aspects of species conservation and mobilizes action for those species that are threatened with extinction. It produces the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
IUCN is also the governing body responsible for the development of the Management Categories into which each Protected Area is divided depending on its conservation requirements and management aims.
The members and commissions work together with a professional secretariat consisting of over 1,000 people in more than 60 different countries. Julia Marton-Lefèvre, a global expert and leader in development and conservation, has been its Director General since 2 January 2007.
She succeeded Achim Steiner, who was appointed Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in June 2006. Poul Engberg-Pedersen serves as Deputy Director General and Managing Director.
IUCN has one of the world's most comprehensive ranges of authoritative publications, reports, guidelines and databases for conservation and sustainable development, publishes or co-authors more than 150 books and major assessments every year, along with hundreds of other reports, documents and guidelines.
A new report released at the IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney on 13 November showed that the 209,000 conservation reserves around the world now cover 15.4 per cent of the total land area. About 6.1 million square kilometres, approximately the same size as the continent Australia, have been added to the Earths total conservation reserves since 2010. The new figures are a step in the right direction of protecting 17 percent of land and 10 percent of ocean environments on Earth by 2020 since an agreement between the worlds nations at the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Japan in 2010. 
- The information in the section on history is largely based on Holdgate, M. 1999. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. For each paragraph in the section one reference to the pages used is included following the header. Where information in the paragraph is based on other sources a separate reference is included in the text</ref>
- "About IUCN". IUCN. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
- "'Green List' awards world's top conservation sites". Australian Geographic. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 16–38. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 47–63. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 67–82. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 110–124. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- "Understanding NGOs (non-government organizations)". Retrieved 26 November 2014.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 132–165. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- Holdgate, Martin. The green web: a union for world conservation. Earthscan. pp. 176–222. ISBN 1 85383 595 1.
- "Global Business and Biodiversity Programme". IUCN. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "IUCN and Shell". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Environmentalist spar over corporate ties". Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "The history of Youth Environmental Organizations, from World War II till now". IYF & YEE-Seniors. Retrieved 2013-07-29.
- N.N.: Ashok Khosla elected president of the IUCN, 13 November 2008. URL retrieved 2011-01-24.
- "International Union for Conservation of Nature". iucn.org. IUCN. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- "IUCN - Commissions". International Union for Conservation of Nature. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
- "IUCN - Commission Chairs". International Union for Conservation of Nature. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
- "Senior Management". IUCN. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
- Photo: IUCN Photo Library Christian Laufenberg. "Search for a publication". IUCN. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
- "Publications". IUCN. Retrieved 2012-01-28.
- "Big increase in Earth’s protected areas". Australian Geographic. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
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