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International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)


Gland, Switzerland



Description: The IUCN is an environmental network (or “membership union”), including government and civil society organizations.

Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources and reach of more than 1,300 member organizations and some 16,000 experts. It is a leading provider of conservation data, assessments and analysis. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of incubator and repository of best practices, tools and international standards.

IUCN’s mission is: “to 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.”

Organization Type: Membership union, including governmental and civil society organizations
Issue areas covered:

The World Conservation Congress at its 3rd Session in Bangkok, Thailand, 17–25 November 2004 approved an “Application of the IUCN Sustainable Use Policy to sustainable consumptive use of wildlife and recreational hunting in southern Africa.” The motion condemned “canned hunting” but supported consumptive use of wildlife.

State member Sweden abstained from voting on this motion.
The United States refrained from engaging in deliberations on this motion and took no national government position on the motion as adopted.
At the same session the Earth Charter was endorsed, which the United States voted against.

Key opportunities and dates for input: 

The World Conservation Congress is held once every four years.

Requirements for participation: 

There is information on the IUCN website about applying for membership.

Advocacy Opportunities:
  • Given the size of IUCN conservation membership, it may be difficult to positively influence its sustainable use policies. However, the more animal protection organizations become members, the greater influence there will be.
  • It may be possible to influence other strands of its policy/work, such as climate change (incorporating livestock policies)?
  • IUCN’s work contributes to CITES decision-making.

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