The assets that IUCN can apply to island conservation and ecosystem management include the knowledge and experience of its membership, the expertise of its Commissions, and the technical skills and capacities of its staff. These assets combine to produce the following set of values:
§ Credible, trusted knowledge about environmental issues that islands are grappling with. IUCN’s Programmes, Commissions and Working Groups offer island-specific expertise on issues such as biodiversity protection, invasive species, marine conservation, adaptation to climate change, and sustainable energy. IUCN’s publications on subjects relevant to islands are another resource it can share. Most importantly, as a global organisation with programmes in several island regions, IUCN can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and experience across islands and beyond, to build capacity and improve governance.
§ Partnerships for action. IUCN’s Members from island countries and regions include governments, non-governmental organisations and private sector associations, a diverse network that can be mobilised to facilitate joint action and decision-making. IUCN’s scientific expertise can also play a role in helping island states address the complex and often far-reaching environmental implications of development decisions. Finally, IUCN offers its close involvement, as partner in and host of the coordination unit for the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), which brings together governments, agencies and organisations with an interest in islands to promote global leadership on island issues.
§ Local to global and global to local links. IUCN’s structure and operations allow it to work with stakeholders at governmental and non-governmental levels in all the islands of the world, regardless of their political status. This global reach is especially valuable in supporting effective participation of all island stakeholders in international fora addressing global environmental issues, including the UN General Assembly, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the
§ Standards and practices. IUCN’s internationally recognised standards can be valuable tools for islands in developing effective conservation legislation, systems of protected areas, environmentally sensitive trade policies, and environmental standards for tourism and industry. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is especially useful for islands given their high percentages of rare and endemic species. Much of IUCN’s climate change adaptation work, for example on improving coral reef resilience and building capacity to deal with extreme weather events, is also of great relevance to island management.
IUCN’s strength is in its ability to apply these values in combination with one another to address environmental issues through both policy and practice, at local, national and global levels. IUCN’s niche is further defined by the priority focal areas of the Initiative as identified in the December 2007 internal planning workshop and highlighted in the situation analyses conducted for island regions. These focal areas include elements of IUCN’s 2009-2012 programme related to marine ecosystems; climate change; invasive species; coastal ecosystem management; environmental policies, legislation and conventions; energy, ecosystems and livelihoods; and the environmental implications of trade arrangements.