About the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

"A world where equity is at the root of a dynamic harmony between people and nature, as well as among peoples..."


The work of CEESP is progressed through a range of processes, including seven thematic areas and working groups created for specific short-term issues, and regional networks.

CEESP Mandate 2013-2016


• A world where equity is at the root of a dynamic harmony between peoples and nature, as well as among peoples.
• A world of diversity, productivity and integrity of natural systems.
• A world in which production and consumption patterns are sustainable.
• A world where cultural diversity is intertwined with biological diversity and together generate abundant and sustainable livelihoods opportunities.


To contribute to the IUCN Mission by providing insights and expertise and promoting policies and action to harmonize the conservation of nature with the crucial socioeconomic and cultural concerns of human communities—such as livelihoods, human rights and responsibilities, human development, security, equity, and the fair and effective governance and equitable sharing of natural resources.

Objectives and strategic approaches

CEESP undertakes its Mission primarily through engaging its Members’ policy and field-based expertise to:

A. Identify, analyse and learn from policies and practices at the interface between conservation of nature and the crucial socioeconomic and cultural concerns of human communities, with particular attention to indigenous peoples and local communities.

B. Advance innovative applied research and provide timely responses to environmental and social crises identified by CEESP members, IUCN Members, Secretariat, Commissions and partners in the field—such as poor or ineffective governance of natural resources, food insecurity, loss of bio-cultural diversity and climate change.

C. Foster a holistic approach to nature conservation across IUCN, embracing complexities and promoting dialogue and collaborative learning based on cultural and social values and on knowledge and experience from diverse regions, communities, genders and ages.

D. Influence the values, policies and practices of public, private and civil society institutions and organizations regarding the conservation of nature, the promotion of bio-cultural diversity and the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and to promote, demonstrate, articulate and link effective and equitable field-based and policy solutions in these areas.

E. Enhance the capacity of IUCN and contribute to implementing the IUCN Programme by collaborating with the IUCN Secretariat, Commissions and IUCN Members bridging the experience and skills of experts and scientists from diverse cultures.

Programme priorities

CEESP’s work is focused on the following programme priorities, incorporating the diverse perspectives and experiences of the CEESP membership:

1. Development and promotion of a conservation ethic that supports diverse knowledge systems and values, delivers rights-based and equitable conservation with improved governance of natural resources and tangible livelihoods benefits, and links biological diversity with the cultural dimensions of nature conservation with a focus on the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities.

2. Increased use of rights-based approaches to natural resource management and governance that promotes social and cultural equity, indigenous peoples' self-determination, community governance, sustainable livelihoods and human security.

3. Nature-based solutions to global challenges—such as climate change, conversion of forests and farmland to monocrops, including biofuels projects, food insecurity, poverty, inequitable economic and social development—that are underpinned by economic policies that reinforce sustainability, social equity and environmental integrity.

4. Enhanced capacity of civil society, governments and the private sector to ensure corporate social and environmental accountability and reduce the negative impact of industries on climate, bio-cultural diversity and food security.

In addition to its own membership, CEESP has formal arrangements with three other IUCN Commissions to deliver jointly aspects of the above priorities relevant to those Commissions, namely the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), the Species Survival Commission (SSC), and the Commission on Environmental Law (CEL).

Structure and organization


The Commission has a diversified membership in terms of disciplines, cultures, languages, geographical regions, age and gender, which brings diverse perspectives and experiences to bear in debating, analysing and promoting the issues of concern to its vision and Mission. Membership includes some of the world’s foremost conservation and sustainable development practitioners, natural and social scientists, and traditional community leaders. Experts from major conservation and development organizations and young professionals with proven capacities in sustainable development at the community, national and international levels also provide valuable insights into the work of the Commission. Membership is voluntary and by invitation or through application with the support of two existing Commission members. The broad scope of the Commission requires the extension and strengthening of capacity through increased membership, strategic partnerships, active fundraising and network mobilization.