IUCN World Conservation Congress

Held once every four years, the IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together several thousand leaders and decision-makers from government, civil society, indigenous peoples, business, and academia, with the goal of conserving the environment and harnessing the solutions nature offers to global challenges.

The Congress aims to improve how we manage our natural environment for human, social and economic development, but this cannot be achieved by conservationists alone. The IUCN Congress is the place to put aside differences and work together to create good environmental governance, engaging all parts of society to share both the responsibilities and the benefits of conservation.

The next World Conservation Congress (WCC) will take place form 9-15 October 2025 in Abu Dhabi, UAE. 

To prepare the WCC, the Regional Conservation Fora will take place between April and October 2024. To find out about these, please click here.


If you wish to see the full documentation (Proceedings of the Members Assemblies, Resolutions, motions, statutes, etc.) related to past Congresses and General Assemblies, please click here.

An overview of the impact that IUCN resolutions have had on international conservation efforts can be viewed here.

A Congress with three components

The Forum is a hub of public debate, bringing together people from all walks of life to discuss the world’s most pressing conservation and sustainability challenges. It includes many different types of events from high level dialogues to training workshops which explore the depths of conservation and innovation.

The Members’ Assembly is IUCN’s highest decision-making body. A unique global environmental parliament, it involves governments and NGOs – large and small, national and international – taking joint decisions on conservation and sustainability.

In the Exhibition, IUCN Members and Commissions, businesses, partners, and academia host stands and events. The Exhibition is open to both registered Congress participants and the general public (free access), allowing exhibitors to showcase their research, innovations and other work to the broadest Congress audience.

Host Country Selection

Traditionally, the World Conservation Congress is hosted by one of IUCN’s State Members. The Congress provides a unique opportunity for a country to showcase its leadership on global environmental issues and to highlight conservation activities. Host countries also benefit from the international exposure of the country’s biodiversity, history and culture.

The selection process generally starts about three and a half years prior to a Congress and IUCN carries out a formal selection process during which interested countries are asked to submit a formal proposal which addresses IUCN’s Statement of Requirements. 


In addition to its own gender strategy and anti-harassment policy, IUCN follows the guidance of the Gender-Responsive Assemblies toolkit produced by the International Gender Champions.


Congress history

In the past, Congresses were held every two years, then every three, and now they are held every four years. Initially, the Congress only consisted of the Members’ Assembly of all IUCN member organizations. Since 1996, the Congress has grown to include the Forum, open to all, to debate major sustainable development issues, propose solutions and facilitate the sharing of information and experiences.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress has been held in all corners of the world:

  • 1988 San José
  • 1984 Madrid
  • 1981 Christchurch
  • 1978 Ashkhabad
  • 1977 Geneva (extra ordinary session)
  • 1975 Kinshasa
  • 1972 Banff
  • 1969 New Delhi
  • 1966 Lucerne
  • 1963 Nairobi
  • 1960 Warsaw
  • 1958 Athens
  • 1956 Edinburgh
  • 1954 Copenhagen
  • 1952 Caracas
  • 1950 Brussels
  • 1948 Fontainebleau

Congress archives

Find all proceedings and other documentation from past Congresses and General Assemblies