As awareness of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species continues to grow, so does the demand for clear guidelines on how to use the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria at sub-global levels to prepare regional and national Red Lists.

The First World Conservation Congress in Montreal in 1996 adopted a resolution calling for the development of coherent guidelines on the application of Red List Categories at regional levels, which refers to any sub-global area such as continent, country, state, or province.

This led to the formation of the Regional Application Working Group (RAWG) under the auspices of the SSC Red List Programme. Membership of the RAWG included people with technical experience in the development of the IUCN Red List Criteria, as well as those with practical experience of producing Red Lists at regional levels. The group consulted many different regional and national groups, participated in regional Red List assessment workshops, published draft versions of the guidelines, and undertook a process of ongoing modification and improvement to the earlier drafts.

IUCN adopted the guidelines resulting from the above process and these were published in 2003 (Version 3.0). In 2003, the National Red List Working Group (NRLWG) was formed to collate the experiences of countries using the regional guidelines and to use these experiences to inform a review process. The reviewed guidelines were published in 2012 (Version 4.0) and are available in IUCN’s three official languages: English, Français, Español