IUCN in Sri Lanka has been conceptualized within the overall context of the Union's mission and the environmental concerns identified in the successive National Environmental Action Plans (NEAP) of the Government of Sri Lanka. In accordance with the Union's global mission, the Sri Lanka Programme facilitates conservation action by offering technical, institutional and policy support to government agencies and NGOs. It also provides opportunities for the practical application of methodologies developed through the Union's scientific network to support conservation initiatives of its members and partners in Sri Lanka . Since its establishment, IUCN Sri Lanka has demonstrated its ability to facilitate and work in partnership with its members to conserve natural resources and to achieve consensus among the various organizations involved.

The in-country operational relationship between the Union and the Government of Sri Lanka commenced in August 1988 with the establishment of the Country Office in Colombo. The presence of IUCN in Sri Lanka was based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed with the then Ministry of Land and Land Development. In 1993, IUCN and the Government of Sri Lanka signed an expanded Memorandum of Agreement, which consolidated its legal status in the country. Since then the activities of IUCN Sri Lanka have expanded and moved into new areas, in partnership with its Government and NGO members and partners. Active partnership arrangements have been maintained with agencies and organizations such as;

Ministry of Environment and Mahaweli Development
Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource Management Department
Department of Wildlife Conservation
Forest Department
National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency
National Institute of Education
Leading non-governmental organizations in the field
IUCN Sri Lanka has to date enlisted 12 members, consisting of four Government and 8 NGO members. The position of IUCN Sri Lanka is further strengthened by the presence in the country of members representing IUCN's six Commissions, notably the Species Survival Commission, the Commission on Education and Communication, the Commission on Environmental Law and the World Commission on Protected Areas.

Many bilateral donors in the country have a longstanding relationship with IUCNSL. They acknowledge the organization as capable and committed, and a valued partner in development co-operation within the environmental sector. In addition, IUCN continually plays an important and active role in formulating and providing inputs, information and advice to various donor-driven programmes and projects, including the Asian Development Bank supported natural resources management sector projects.

IUCN Sri Lanka Programme

The emphasis of the Programme is to support sustainable natural resource initiatives of the Union's members and partners in Sri Lanka , in biodiversity conservation, conservation and management of critical habitats, environmental policy support, institutional support and environmental education and awareness. The country office's technical arm is organized in three thematic areas.

Forestry and Biodiversity
Coastal Resources Management
Business and Biodiversity
The Corporate functions are organized into Finance, Human Resources Development, Information Technology and Administration.

Further to this the Programme Development Group was established for project monitoring, programme development, Monitoring and Evaluation and to maintain links between the varied components of the programme. The Corporate Management Team provides oversight and guidance on operational issues of the country office and a Constituency Development Group to facilitate and promote constituency related matters.

IUCN Sri Lanka has been developing relationships with Sri Lankan businesses and business institutions over the past few years. An important trigger to the process was the IUCN Asia Regional Conservation Forum held in December 2003 where active participation of the private sector provided a constructive platform for dialogue and the establishment of more substantive collaboration.

IUCN Sri Lanka programme is managed by a core staff with the services of national and international technical expertise obtained where necessary to support specific projects and programmes. The core staff consists of over 6 scientific officers holding Masters and/or Ph.D. degrees in various related disciplines and possessing wide and extensive experience in working with government and other stakeholders. In addition, the services of experts within the IUCN Asia Programme, housed within IUCN Sri Lanka are also available to the programme.

In the context of IUCN's mission, the role of the IUCN programme in Sri Lanka is to be a facilitator of conservation action. It plays a catalytic role, and offers effective platforms to promote dialogue and discussion among the various partners engaged in conservation work. It also provides opportunities for the practical application of methodologies developed through the Union's scientific networks to support the conservation initiatives of members and partners of IUCN in Sri Lanka.