The IUCN Science and Knowledge Unit serves three functions:

1) Supporting the development, standards, integration, and sustainability of knowledge products. A key role of IUCN is the delivery of authoritative knowledge products.

Two of these have been flagships of IUCN for five decades: the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (which assesses risk of species extinction) and Protected Planet (which assesses protected areas).

Two of them are in advanced stages of consolidation: the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (which assesses risk of ecosystem collapse) and Key Biodiversity Areas (which assesses sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity).

An additional two are in inception phases, as frameworks to assess human dependency on nature and natural resource governance.

2) Connecting IUCN to peer networks. IUCN connects more than 10,000 specialists across its six expert Commissions, as well as more than 1,200 Member organisations. Clearly, though, the challenges facing the global environment are so more than can be resolved by any one network. IUCN must therefore work in synergy with the numerous other networks which have remits relating to conservation, biodiversity, and sustainability.

Foremost among these is the new Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The Science and Knowledge Unit maintains IUCN contact points into IPBES and other relevant peer networks, to help maximise collaboration, complementarity, and information sharing, and reduce the risk of duplication of effort.

3) Strengthening IUCN’s culture of science and knowledge. For the Union to fulfil its role as an interface between science, policy, and practice, all components of IUCN both generate science and knowledge themselves and require access to that produced by others.

Supporting this, the Science and Knowledge Unit maintains the IUCN Library as a source of science and knowledge for the Union and beyond, and manages the production and dissemination of around 100 authoritative IUCN Publications annually. It also seeks to measure the input, output, uptake, and impact of science and knowledge across the Union on an ongoing basis, as a means of strengthening the contributions of conservation science and knowledge towards policy and practice.