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

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
    Calls for an end to poverty globally by 2030 and promotes increased access to basic services and social protection.
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  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
    Aims to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
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  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being
    Aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, by reducing mortality rates and increasing access to equitable health care for men and women.
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  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
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  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
    Aims to end gender discrimination in all forms and promote equal opportunity for all women and girls in terms of education, career, and sexual/reproductive rights.
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  • SDG 6 -Clean Water and Sanitisation
    Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by promoting global access to adequate sanitation and hygiene.
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  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
    Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by promoting affordable and reliable energy sources.
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  • SDG 8 -Decent Work and Economic Growth
    Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
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  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
    Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.  
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  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
    Aims to achieve economic growth by reducing inequalities regarding social, economic and political opportunities and freedoms.
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  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
    Aims to promote the globalization of sustainable cities and communities in turn providing universal safe and affordable housing.
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  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
    Aims to create responsible and sustainable practices involving consumption and production through efficiently using natural resources.
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  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
    Calls to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts through global awareness, education, and integration into government policies.
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  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
    Calls to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development and prevent and reduce marine pollution in order to protect ecosystems and achieve healthy oceans.
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  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
    Aims to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
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  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
    Aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Calls to reduce all forms of violence and deaths related to violence and to end abuse and exploitation
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  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
    Aims to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development by mobilizing domestic resources in order to provide support for developing countries.
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