Every four year, during the IUCN World Conservation Congress, our Members elect the representatives for the IUCN Council. Yesterday – 5 September 2012 – was the last meeting of the current Council. The elections of new Councilors will take place on 11 and 12 September, and at the end of the Congress we will have a new Council.
States that want to join Union as a Member send a letter from the highest authority to indicate their interest and to confirm that they will adhere to the IUCN Statutes. One of the standard activities of the Council is to review the other applications for membership to the Union, from Government agencies or non-Government organisations, and yesterday 46 new Members were approved without objections, including a number of organisations from Europe.
For me, the most notable application for membership in this group is WWF International, the global headquarters of the Worldwide Fund for Nature in Switzerland. Many of the national WWF organisations in Europe, like WWF UK, Wereld Natuur Fonds in the Netherlands or WWF Switzerland have been national NGO Member of the Union for a long time, but now the Headquarters of the organisation has joined as an International NGO Member. At the same time, WWF Russia and WWF Hungary also applied as a national NGOs in their country.
It has been difficult to explain in the past why WWF International was not a Member of IUCN, when other International NGOs like Conservation International, Wetlands International, Flora and Fauna International and The Nature Conservancy are part of the Union. After all, WWF and IUCN, shared offices until the nineties, and we both still have our Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. This development is good news for nature conservation, and opens the door for even closer collaboration between the two organisations.