International Union for the Conservation of Nature Programme 1994-1996


The purpose of this introduction is to place the International Union for the Conservation (IUCN) and its Programme in a global context and to show how IUCN contributes to the implementation of the conservation and sustainable development agenda after UNCED and the publication of Caring for the Earth. It also explains how the Programme is constructed, the approach IUCN is taking in conceptualizing, planning, and implementing it, and thus how the different Programme components relate to each other. It presents the technical and intellectual resources IUCN has available for its Programme and what mechanisms are in place for ensuring high-quality work. It explains how IUCN is cooperating with other organizations and, finally, what budget resources are expected to be available and how they will be allocated, according to what priorities, given the rationale for the entire programme.

The present Programme and the development that is proposed are based on the conclusions of the Strategic Planning exercise, as formulated at the time of writing the present document. Once the Strategic Plan is finalized, the Programme will be adjusted progressively, to conform with its conclusions. This adjustment will be managed through the annual planning and reporting cycle, which is described in detail at the end of this introduction. That cycle will also be the basis for adapting the Union's programme dynamically, to meet changing circumstances and needs during the triennium.

This document contains the following sections:

The Contribution of the IUCN Programme to the Conservation and Sustainable Development Agenda

The contribution of the IUCN Programme to implementing Agenda 21 and Caring for the Earth is synthesized in the proposed new Mission Statement for IUCN, which reads as follows:

The Mission of IUCN is to influence and guide societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity, productivity, and diversity of nature and to use natural resources appropriately and sustainably.

The activities that will be pursued through the Programme to advance the mission and contribute to the implementation of Agenda 21 and Caring for the Earth are based on IUCN's "heartland" of competence in understanding the factors that control the productivity, diversity, and resilience of the Earth's major ecosystems, the ways in which they may be safeguarded, and the basis for ensuring that human use of natural resources is sustainable. To this end, the Secretariat and Commissions maintain core expertise in the ecology of the major biomes and in the conservation of biological diversity through, inter alia, conservation of species and protected areas. The competence in natural sciences is integrated with a growing competence in social science disciplines, which are required for understanding how different communities, social systems, and social processes affect the environment. To translate this knowledge into practical methodology and applications, the Programme also contains skills in environmental law, environmental assessment, and the development of strategies for sustainability. In emphasizing its role of influencing and guiding societies, the mission reflects the advocacy role of IUCN, and this is represented in the Programme through the education and communication components as well as through a strong policy development focus.

Based on the above Mission Statement and on the expertise available to IUCN, the following steps are applied in advancing the conservation and sustainable development agenda:

  1. understanding how species and ecosystems function and how they sustain themselves or might be sustained;
  2. identifying and analyzing how human behavior, social policy, development approaches, and economic activities have an impact on, threaten, or constrain those functions in step 1 as well as govern the sustainable use of natural resources;
  3. developing and guiding policies for sustainable development, identifying what policies, changes in behavior, management, social organization, legal framework and international arrangements are necessary to anticipate and prevent damaging impact; where impacts do occur, assessing what adjustments are necessary and what tools (processes, policies, methods, instruments) are most effective to compensate for, or correct, them;
  4. advocating and influencing (motivating, inspiring, enabling, assisting) societies (governments, local communities, individuals) to do what is recommended in step 3 above.

In other words, in order to carry out step 4, it is necessary to outline what might be done in a social context (step 3), in the face of threats and constraints (step 2), based on fundamental knowledge and observation (step 1).

The Global Context

Some 10 years ago, IUCN was one of very few organizations dealing with conservation and sustainable development, while today there are many such organizations (private consultancy companies, national and international NGOs as well as bilateral and multilateral development agencies, and United Nations entities). Following UNCED, sustainable development issues are being pressed higher up the agenda of governments worldwide. As a consequence, IUCN finds itself in an environment more conducive to its mission but also more demanding. In parallel with this increased interest in, and concern with, environment and sustainable development issues, IUCN has developed from being a comparatively small organization dealing with traditional conservation problems from its Headquarters in Switzerland into a decentralized organization with offices in many parts of the world, involved in substantial field operations aiming to achieve sustainable development. This can and should be seen as a success since the developments of recent years correspond to what IUCN has been advocating in the World Conservation Strategy and in other publications. The demanding environment in which IUCN finds itself requires, however, that it defines its role and Programme more clearly.

The publication of Caring for the Earth in 1991 and of Agenda 21 in 1992 increase the need for IUCN to define its role and Programme. These two documents cover a very broad range of issues and IUCN cannot address all of them. However, the Programme must reflect an awareness and understanding of the broad context established by the two documents and contribute to their implementation. IUCN's financial supporters, as well as its cooperators in programme implementation, are to a large extent government agencies that see Agenda 21 as the document they need to refer to when pursuing environmental and sustainable development issues. It is therefore necessary to show that, by financially supporting and/or working with IUCN, they contribute to implementing Agenda 21. Likewise, IUCN has committed itself to the policy and actions contained in Caring for the Earth and the Programme is guided by this document. Hence, it is necessary to analyze to what extent the two documents are compatible.

Both documents are extremely rich and complex and a mechanical comparison cannot convey the nuances of meaning. There are, however, no points of disagreement or contradiction and the two documents are fully compatible and, indeed, complementary. A comparison of the overall characteristics reveals that Agenda 21 is primarily a "compendium" of important actions, while Caring for the Earth contains a list of priority actions and targets and provides a holistic view of development and environmental linkages as well as a conceptual and philosophical framework for their integration for action; it is a "tool for thinking." Caring for the Earth is also unique in its treatment of the ethical question that provides the strongest single principle which can guide society on a sustainable path towards development.

Programme Structure

The IUCN Programme, i.e., the totality of all activities undertaken by the Secretariat, the Commissions, and other networks in cooperation with the Secretariat, is presented in three main blocks.

The first block, The Direction and Management of the Union, deals with the direction of the Secretariat and services of the Union under the Director General. Within this block, subsections cover direction, policy development, programme development and coordination, governance, development of the support base, communications, corporate relations and management, and administration (including personnel and finance). In relation to Agenda 21 and Caring for the Earth, policy development and part of the governance component correspond to the aim of "Creating a Global Alliance" or "International Cooperation to accelerate the Conservation and Sustainable Development Agenda" and largely relate to step 4 above. The Communications component is vital for the advocacy role of the Secretariat, which is becoming an increasingly important element of the Programme. Corporate Relations is a recently added component in response to the emphasis in both Agenda 21 and Caring for the Earth on the need to bring industry and the private sector into the process of conservation and sustainable development. The sections on Development, Management, and Administration describe activities essential to the continued existence of IUCN and the achievement of all else in its Programme.

The second block, Technical Programmes (Themes and Services), deals with action to conserve biomes, habitats, and species, and to ensure that where they are used, this use is sustainable. Emphasis is placed on supporting and coordinating the work of Commissions and other networks, and on themes and services such as strategies for sustainability, environmental assessment, environmental law, environmental education, ethics, and social policy. This block corresponds to the greater part of Agenda 21, which recommends actions to be taken with regard to major ecosystems and their management by communities. The block corresponds to seven of the principles in Caring for the Earth, namely: "Conserving the Earth's vitality and diversity," "Keeping within the Earth's carrying capacity," "Providing a national framework for integrating development and conservation," "Enabling communities to care for their own environment," "Changing personal attitudes and practices," "Respecting and caring for the community of life" and "Improving the quality of human life." This block relates mainly to steps 1 and 2 above but includes some elements of the other two.

The third block deals with the Regional Programmes, which are responsible for developing and implementing activities in the field, in cooperation with members and partners. It corresponds to Part III of Caring for the Earth, which proposes guidelines for implementing the strategy and adapting it to local needs and capabilities. Like the second block of the Programme, it refers mostly to the technical chapters of Agenda 21. This block relates mainly to steps 3 and 4 above.

The Approach

Conservation and sustainable development needs and circumstances differ from one region and country to another. Programme activities are therefore conceptualized and formulated on a regional and country basis, following debate and agreement among IUCN members and partners in that region and country. The role of Regional and Country Offices is to facilitate and guide consultative processes and ensure that the activities agreed upon can be integrated into a coherent set of activities in such a way that the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Programme activities are increasingly carried out by IUCN members and partners within a region, as the role of the Secretariat becomes more that of a catalyst and facilitator, aiming to build the capacity of members and partners. In doing so, Regional and Country Offices will draw upon their own expertise as well as that available at Headquarters, in the Commissions, and in other networks.

The role of Headquarters is three-fold. The first role is to provide overall coordination and ensure that the programme proposals coming in from the regions are amalgamated in one coherent whole that reflects the Union's mission and overall priorities. The second is to ensure that technical and scientific advice is provided to regional programmes, drawing upon the central Secretariat, the Commissions, and other networks. Headquarters is therefore responsible for central advice and guidance. The third, and equally important role, is to synthesize the outputs and results from field activities and use these as a basis for across-the-board reviews and workshops, as well as for translating the results into policies and guides for publication and debate in international fora. The insight so generated will be fed back into the regional programmes as a basis for further developing and improving the approach taken with regard to planning and implementing activities in the field. The three roles can be summarized as coordination, support, and synthesis.

Headquarters, guided by the General Assembly and Council, is also responsible for policy formulation and for supporting the Union's advocacy role on global issues of conservation and sustainable development. It seeks to ensure that despite its decentralized structure and worldwide membership, IUCN functions as a Union.

Resources Available and Quality Control

The resources available to carry out the Programme as outlined above are those of the Secretariat located at Headquarters and in Regional and Country Offices, the six Commissions and other networks, advisory groups, and a number of consultants that work regularly with the Secretariat. To benefit fully from the Commission system, each Commission (with the exception of the Commission on Ecology) now has a Secretariat unit or focal point at Headquarters facilitating its work. As a consequence, the work of the Commissions is becoming increasingly coordinated with that of the Secretariat, and the resources that the Commissions represent are utilized not only as a source of advice within the programme but, more importantly, for synthesizing the experience gained in field work and translating it into policy statements and guides. In this work, the resources of the Commissions are often combined with the expertise available in other networks.

To increase the benefits from Commissions, a dual process is under way whereby the Commissions are becoming increasingly organized on a regional basis and Regional Offices are increasing their capacity for interacting with Commissions at that level. The latter is achieved by Regional Offices having staff assigned to interact with Commissions and by the Commissions nominating focal points charged with the task of interacting with Regional Offices. Further developments along these lines are foreseen in the Review of Commissions (paper GA/19/94/6) and Strategic Plan (paper GA/19/94/8).

Overall responsibility for overseeing the development and implementation of the Programme is vested in Council and in its Conservation Programmes Committee (now proposed for conversion to a Science and Programme Advisory Board). To ensure that the work undertaken by the Secretariat is of high quality, several programme components are also guided by advisory committees. Members of these committees are drawn both from Commissions and from independent experts in relevant fields who are familiar with IUCN's work. This type of quality control is combined with reviews and evaluations of technical and regional programmes undertaken at regular intervals (ideally every three years, resources permitting). Such reviews and evaluations are also undertaken with the assistance of external expertise so as to ensure impartiality in both findings and recommendations.

Cooperation with other Organizations

Sustainable development and conservation are now recognized as major challenges of today's society. No single organization can respond adequately on its own. Cooperation at the global, regional, national, and local levels is essential. IUCN, as a Union, is a cooperative effort of its members and its Programme must be conceptualized, planned, and implemented in cooperation with members and partners. The Secretariat is that of a union and its role is to harness the Union's resources, pursue the objectives of the Union as expressed in its mission statement, and assist members in achieving their objectives. In this sense, the entire Programme is a cooperative effort with other organizations.

However, there are some organizations with which a different type of cooperation has developed, either in that the Secretariat provides an advisory input to their work or in that the organization provides data or information vital for the Secretariat's work. An example of the former type of cooperation is the technical support provided by the Species Programme and the Species Survival Commission (SSC) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Much of the background information required for decisions to be taken by the Parties to the Convention is prepared and provided by SSC and the Secretariat, working closely with WWF and TRAFFIC (The Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna In Commerce), which is a joint programme of IUCN and WWF.

Similarly, the Wetlands Programme cooperates with the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention), in assisting contracting parties to implement the Convention, and works closely with the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB). The Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention is also co-located with the IUCN Secretariat.

The World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) was set up by IUCN in 1979 as a center for collecting, organizing, and analyzing data on the status of species and habitats, including protected areas, and became a partnership venture of IUCN, UNEP, and WWF in 1988. The Centre is, inter alia, responsible for publishing the Red Data Books, which provide information on the status of endangered species. It also provides the data required for publishing the United Nations list of protected areas and is becoming increasingly involved in supporting the Global Biodiversity Convention. The Protected Areas, Biodiversity, and Species Programmes are most closely linked to WCMC, but other programmes also rely on this data source for their work.

The cooperation that has been developed with CITES has proven to be particularly appropriate for IUCN. The Secretariat has demonstrated its ability to provide background information and advice to members of the Convention on a number of issues for which they themselves are unable to do their own research. Similar close cooperation is needed with other Conventions, not least the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Budget and Priorities

IUCN's income is grouped in four categories:

  1. Unrestricted income over which the Director General has full control, within the Programme and budget approved by Council. About 60 percent of this income consists of membership dues, bank interest, publications sales, etc., with the remaining part coming from grants by financial partners. In 1993 this income category amounted to 15.7 percent of the entire expenditure or approximately SFR9,6 million.
  2. General Programme Support that consists of funds contributed by financial partners which, by and large, can be used to finance any programme component. In 1993, this income category amounted to SFR10,7 million or 17.5 percent of total expenditures.
  3. Programme Restricted Income that consists of funds contributed by financial partners, with utilization restricted to one specific Programme component. In 1993, this income category amounted to SFR2,3 million or 3.8 percent of total expenditures.
  4. Project Restricted income that can only be used for a specific project, under a project agreement signed with a financial partner. In 1993, this income category represented SFR38,5 million or 63 percent of total expenditures.

It is clear that the Director General (and Council) only have full control over a small portion of the income (category 1), although there is substantial flexibility in the use of funds obtained as General Programme Support. The restrictions that must be observed are that such funds cannot be used to finance basic administrative and management functions, nor the European and North American Programmes, since contributions for General Programme Support are provided by development assistance agencies whose funds are mandated for developing countries. This is one factor that has to be taken into consideration in preparing the budget and establishing priorities for the 1994-1996 triennium.

The second factor is obviously the total amount of funds that is likely to be available for each one of the three years. With the exception of membership dues and some long-term agreements with financial supporters on General Programme Support, income is not secured for the entire period but depends on continued negotiations throughout the triennium. The total amounts that will be available for each one of the three years can therefore only be estimated, although these estimates are based on many years of experience. Thus, the development and implementation of the activities described in the Programme depend on financial resources being secured.

Taking the above factors into consideration, it is not useful to prepare a detailed budget for each one of the three years since numbers will have to be modified as negotiations with financial partners proceed during the triennium. The budget table below (Financial Comparison over the 1994-1996 Triennium) is therefore intended to show the likely development of the total budget and how it is proposed to distribute it between the different programme components, given, of course, that the funding base permits the proposed distribution.

The total budget is expected to grow by approximately 5 percent in 1994 over 1993, and thereafter by 7 percent per year (including an assumed rate of cost increase in Switzerland of 3 percent). Taking 1993 as a point of departure, this means that an amount of SFR64,063 million will be available for 1994, SFR68,456 million for 1995 and SFR73,135 million for 1996. Based on the policy presented above, i.e., that the Programme will be increasingly conceptualized, planned, and implemented at regional and country levels, it is proposed that the major growth will take place in regional programmes. Thus, it is planned to increase the regional programmes as a whole by about 8 percent in 1994 and thereafter by 10 percent per annum. The capacity and justification for growth varies, however, from one region to another as will be explained below.

Technical programmes must be developed as a mechanism for supporting the Union's mission and its worldwide membership. Their staff will increasingly become technical advisors and coordinators, working with and through Commissions and other networks. Their role in policy formulation and in the preparation of guides, handbooks, and other publications will expand. Conversely, their role as implementers of projects will gradually decline. The shift of emphasis from Headquarters to the regions means that much of the growth in these programmes will be decentralized, so that there will be little need to increase staff at Headquarters (though there are differences in requirements between programmes). Overall, it is estimated that the technical programmes will grow only by 3 percent in 1994, and by 4 percent per annum thereafter; a particular effort will need to be devoted to cross-sectoral themes and issues.

The administrative and management functions at Headquarters have been substantially improved over the last few years and it is therefore estimated that the costs for these functions will grow by approximately 3 percent per annum.

In order to re-build the operating reserve that was substantially depleted in 1992 and thereafter to increase it to a more acceptable level, the allocation for this purpose has been increased in 1993 and will stay at the same level thereafter.

The above indicates the overall policy to be pursued with regard to the distribution of funds during the triennium. That policy will, however, have to be applied with flexibility since the present situation varies between regions and between individual theme and service programmes. For example, the regional programme for East Africa is more developed than the programme for South America, which is still in an early stage. The annual increase in South America is therefore likely to be more than the average, while the programme for East Africa will grow more slowly. Similarly, the Species and the Wetlands Programmes are now comparatively well staffed and the increase in those programmes will therefore be lower than that of the Education Programme or the Protected Areas and Biodiversity Programmes. The Environmental Law Programme, although well established, faces ever-increasing demand and is also likely to require above-average support.

A further factor to take into consideration in discussing budget and priorities for the triennium is the type of funding which will be available. In order to be able to realise the proposed policy, the Secretariat will have to obtain an increased share of the budget in less restricted funds or funds given expressly to support the Union's priorities. It is only in this way that it will be possible for regional programmes to be developed as catalysts and supporters of activities undertaken by members and partners rather than dominated by project implementation, supported by a project-restricted funding base. Similarly, technical programmes depend on more flexible funds to be able to serve as focal points for Commissions and other networks as well as generators of policy. A project-restricted funding base will impede the achievement of the policies set out above and hamper or prevent the full implementation of the Strategic Plan and Review of Commissions.