IUCN: 20 years in South America

25 November 2011 | News story

It has been 20 years since IUCN started its work in South America. First steps were given in order to show the world the importance of this region and the conservation of its biological richness. The little group of passionate people turned into a big network of NGOs, governments and experts committed with the vision of a just world that values and conserves nature.


In the beginning of its career in South America , IUCN supported several countries in the development of National Biodiversity Strategies. The Rio Conference and later the Millennium Development Goals established the path of our activities.

Species conservation was the focus, but the human being involvement in conservation was also understood and taken into account. The region started to promote and value the role that Indigenous people play in conservation.

Some of our achievements during these 20 years are:

- Leading the debate about the present and future of protected areas in the region. Definition of a work agenda after the II Latin American Parks Congress, Bariloche 2007.
- Raising the debate about indigenous governance and also development of a complete research about the overlap between protected areas and indigenous territories.
- Developing indicators of social and cultural well being for Andean indigenous communities in Peru and Bolivia.
- Strengthening the implementation of ABS regimes in the region.
- Supporting Ecuadorian and Peruvian governments in promoting the use and conservation of biodiversity along the Inca Trail (Gran Ruta Inca).
- Promoting the Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change within the forest legislations in Ecuador and Peru.
- Developing guidelines for environmental services payments for the conservation of forests in Chile.
- Evaluating forest governance and law implementation in Brazil.
- Developing dialogues and debates about REDD+.
- Supporting the development of National Plans for Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) led by Water Authorities in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Mapping and coding of the region’s watersheds in the Andean countries.
- Tools development for protected areas management based on a better understanding of the relationship between poverty, climate change and governance in The Chaco region (Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia).
- Promoting biodiversity conservation in the Cuenca del Plata. Assessing fish populations.
- Reducing illegal wildlife trade in Yasuní Biosphere Reserve and helping to provide people with alternatives to income from the illegal wild meat trade that is threatening local wildlife in Ecuador.
- Developing study cases on Climate Change Adaptation based on Indigenous Peoples Traditional Knowledge.
- Reducing illegal logging in the Oxapampa Ashaninka Yanesha Biosphere Reserve in Peru.
Despite South America’s fortune in terms of biological diversity, poverty and social inequality still persist across the region. The biggest challenge facing conservation stems from a rapidly expanding economy—one that is still heavily dependent on the export of natural resources and agricultural products.