International Union for Conservation of Nature

Founding Year: 1948

Staff: 1000

Budget: $65.5m

Bruno Oberle (Director General)

“The world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization,” and “the largest professional global conservation network,” with 1300+ member organizations (governments and NGOs), and almost 11,000 voluntary scientists and experts, grouped in six Commissions in some 160 countries. Holds the IUCN World Conservation Congress every four years, when it approves a four-year program involving business, economics, ecosystem management, environmental law, forest conservation, gender, global policy, marine and polar concerns, protected areas, social policy, species, water, and World Heritage. The IUCN Program 2017-2020 was decided by its members at the 2016 Congress in Hawaii.

Program areas:

  • Valuing and conserving nature – enhances IUCN’s heartland work on biodiversity conservation, emphasizing both tangible and intangible values of nature.
  • Effective and equitable governance of natural resources in context of people-nature relations, rights and responsibilities, and the political economy of nature.
  • Deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food, and development.


Expert Commissions:

  • Species Survival Commission – A science-based network of more than 8,000 volunteer experts from almost every country of the world. Features the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • Commission on Ecosystem Management – Promotes biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. Features the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems.
  • World Commission on Protected Areas – A network of 2,500 experts from 140 countries that mobilizes action in science, conservation, policy, and engagement to support well managed and connected parks and other protected areas. Develops global protected area standards and best practice guidelines.
  • Commission on Environment, Economic, and Social Policy – Generates and disseminates knowledge, mobilizes influence, and promotes actions to harmonize the conservation of nature with the critical social, cultural, environmental, and economic justice concerns of human societies. Develops a Natural Resource Governance Framework and the Human Dependency on Nature Framework.
  • World Commission on Environmental Law – A network of 100+ environmental law and policy experts from all regions of the world volunteering their knowledge and services in 10 specialist groups.
  • Commission on Education and Communication – Works towards the co-creation of sustainable solutions through leading communication, learning and knowledge management in IUCN and the wider conservation community.


  • Annual reports
  • Crossroads blog
  • An extensive library of conservation tools, issues briefs, statutory and corporate documents, project tools, Monitoring and Evaluation


Note: IUCN was founded in 1948 as the International Union for the Protection of Nature, and changed its name in 1956 to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. It was also known as the World Conservation Union beginning in 1990, but the name is no longer commonly used since 2008. (MM)

International Union for Conservation of Nature contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals

  Organization Type

  Geographic Foci


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