From Barcelona to Jeju: IUCN Director General outlines progress

Today, IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefèvre addressed Members on IUCN’s activities since the last Congress in 2008:

Seongsan Illchubong Photo: Jeju

In many ways, the Union’s journey from Barcelona to Jeju can be described as a marathon. The last few miles, which are often the most crucial, began in 2011 when IUCN held 11 regional conservation fora, and continued throughout 2012 with Rio+20.

Since 2008, IUCN has welcomed three new state members: the Republic of Guinea, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Republic of Vanuatu. That brings the state membership total to 91. On the eve of the 2012 Congress, IUCN’s Council admitted another 48 Members, bringing total membership to 1,272.

This year, there are 200 diverse motions for consideration at the Congress. Beginning in 1948, IUCN Members have passed more than 1,000 resolutions to date – 136 were adopted in Barcelona alone. Since then, IUCN has fully or partially implemented each resolution.

For IUCN, a 64-year old challenge is getting its message out. Because it is an organization deeply rooted in science, there are hurdles to overcome when attempting to raise visibility. However, since 2008, IUCN’s global media coverage has tripled, and individual visits to its website have doubled. Its social media presence has also grown dramatically.

I think that we should be proud of who we are, our methods of working, and the often quiet, behind-the-scenes impact that we can make. We must continue to work on getting our message out where it matters most.

To tackle the global biodiversity crisis, IUCN endeavours to continue to reach diverse audiences and forge new partnerships. In these past four years, IUCN has generated considerable new conservation science based on assessments and experience from implementing projects on the ground. This knowledge was used to drive IUCN’s policy positions in several areas, resulting in a stronger strategic plan for biodiversity, gender-aware approaches to environmental challenges, and a pro-poor, pro-biodiversity approach to addressing climate change.

Some other highlights for IUCN over the past four years include tangible evidence that global conservation efforts have contributed to slowing down the global species extinction crisis by almost one-fifth; producing the first-ever credible estimates of the value of nature for our own well-being, thanks to the study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB); and contributing to the continued growth of the global protected areas estate, which today covers an area equivalent to the size of Russia and supports the livelihoods of over one billion people.

IUCN was also awarded the LEED platinum certification – the top award for green buildings – which was given to its new headquarters extension in Gland, Switzerland, just before the Congress.
There are many things that I’m proud of accomplishing as your Director General, and certainly many others where we will continue to strive to do better. Our Union is indeed as diverse as the biodiversity we are all working to conserve.

West and Central Africa
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