IUCN - Our priorities

Our priorities

IUCN aims to mobilize the communities working for biodiversity conservation, sustainable development and poverty reduction in common efforts to halt biodiversity loss and apply nature-based solutions to global challenges.

We have three key priorities areas of work:

Valuing and conserving nature

Biological diversity (‘biodiversity’) is essential for human well-being. Its elements – ecosystems, genes and species – sustain the life support systems of this planet.

Biodiversity provides food security, human health, clean air and water; contributes directly to local livelihoods and economic development. Yet, despite its fundamental importance for life on this planet, it continues to be lost.

Better knowledge about biodiversity, the threats it faces and the conservation measures that can be taken, help drive action. IUCN has a long history of providing credible and trusted knowledge on biodiversity, notably through the expertise of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) and the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).
 
Our focus is generating knowledge that directly leads to policy influence and conservation action on the ground. A key priority is to expand the taxonomic coverage of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species by assessing plants, invertebrates and fungi to make it truly representative of biodiversity as a whole.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Ecosystems will complement the information provided by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and will help embed conservation into land use planning and national development.

As well as promoting the economic values of biodiversity, IUCN will continue to promote the cultural and other intangible values of nature. As The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study shows, it will be more expensive to continue with business as usual than to deal with the consequences of further biodiversity loss. IUCN promotes the incorporation of biodiversity values into development and planning as well as into private sector and government accounting systems.

IUCN has a long history of working with the biodiversity related conventions - in particular, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species. IUCN is continually asked by governments to help implement these conventions and their policies.

Fair and effective governance of nature's use

Natural resource governance is defined as the norms, institutions and processes that determine how power and responsibilities are exercised, how decisions are taken and how citizens participate in natural resource governance.

People everywhere depend directly or indirectly on biodiversity for their well-being. Nature is a precondition for growth and prosperity of human societies. There is growing evidence that the direct economic value of this support is enormous though not well recognized.

Studies suggest that natural resources regularly and directly contribute 25% – 30% of many rural and coastal peoples’ household income in low and middle income countries.
 
However, the State has tended to retain authority over natural resources excluding or heavily regulating local control. The direct consequence of this is that nature’s benefits are not fairly shared and, in many situations, natural resources are poorly managed.

This area of our work contributes to recognizing and respecting the rights of people who live close to and rely on nature. We help governments, communities and the private sector put in place credible and robust measures to improve natural resource governance – both policy making and implementation. 

Nature-based solutions to global challenges

IUCN promotes the use of nature-based solutions in tackling global challenges such as climate change, poverty and food security.

Healthy forests and peat bogs purify water for us. Coral reefs act as storm-buffering breakwaters. Mangroves form sea walls that protect shorelines and communities from natural disasters. Well-managed estuaries boost food security, jobs and incomes for millions. Nature does all this for us and, if properly nurtured and maintained, it does so largely for free.

We show how protecting and restoring ecosystems, particularly forests, can help reduce carbon emissions and help people adapt to the impacts of climate change.

IUCN works with many partners in projects that put nature at the centre of efforts to improve the quality of life using a people-centred approach and fair distribution of resources.

Read more about our work on nature-based solutions.