End of year message from IUCN's President and Director General

18 December 2013 | Article

Another year has flown by yet again, and the new one is almost here. In 2013, all of us at IUCN rolled up our sleeves to put into motion our Programme for the next four years adopted by IUCN’s global membership at the Jeju Congress.

With its focus on valuing and conserving nature, promoting effective and equitable governance of nature’s use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges, the IUCN Programme 2013-2016 is our most ambitious and exciting yet. It also ensures that we work together as a Union, with Members, Commission and Secretariat each playing a part.

As the global voice of nature and sustainability, IUCN is actively engaged in crafting the future Sustainable Development Goals, advocating for a greater recognition of healthy nature as a prerequisite for achieving economic prosperity and social wellbeing.

From helping nations use natural defences to boost resilience against disasters to advising companies on how to properly value natural capital, and from mobilizing governments to curb the current spike in illegal wildlife trade to producing the world’s first gender and environment index, our Union’s work in 2013 helped shape a sustainable future for all of us.

One year on from Jeju, we have welcomed 60 new Members to the Union – including, for the first time, a Member from Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing the total membership of IUCN to 1,228.

We have enjoyed getting to know and working with the newly-elected members of IUCN Council. Sadly, we also mourned the passing of several illustrious figures in the IUCN network, notably the former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, who served as the Patron of the 2003 IUCN World Parks Congress, and the world-renowned champion of environmental law, Dr Françoise Burhenne-Guilmin.

Furthermore, we have advanced the development of existing and new knowledge products, bringing the best conservation science together with the latest technology to become a powerful tool for decision-making. And we are working on strengthening our Union’s profile and influence within and beyond the conservation community.

Looking ahead to 2014, we are gearing up to two key milestones for our Union: the 50th anniversary of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, our flagship knowledge product, and the once-in-a-decade IUCN World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia where we hope to see many of you.

On behalf of IUCN, we wish to thank all of you - IUCN Members, Councillors, Commission members, and partners - for supporting our Union in 2013 and for your work towards our shared vision of ‘a just world that values and conserves nature’.

With best wishes to you and your families for a joyful holiday season and a very happy New Year 2014!

Zhang Xinsheng, President and Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General