Big changes in the management of IUCN in Europe

You may have seen a recent message from the IUCN Director-General about the re-organisation of the IUCN Secretariat as a result of a decrease in funding, and in particular the envisaged changes in the management of IUCN in Europe.  The position of Regional Director for Europe has been abolished, and the Head of Office in Brussels has left.  A new Director for the Brussels Office is being recruited as you read this – the deadline for applications was mid- December.  The individual IUCN programme responsibilities in the European Region have been integrated in the respective IUCN Global Programmes, and a European coordinator has been appointed to ensure coherence.

What does all this mean for nature conservation in Europe?  The changes are aimed to enhance integration between the IUCN project activities in Europe and the global IUCN network, and to strengthen the role of European IUCN Members and National Committees.  The expectation is that this will make the overall work of IUCN in Europe more effective, despite a reduced Secretariat budget.

What does it mean for me?  I have decided to leave IUCN, and become independent.   I am also pursuing some very interesting opportunities with other organisations.  I will maintain this blog, and will keep writing about nature conservation and development.  I have my Twitter account @hansfriederich, and I use LinkedIn as a means for communication with former colleagues and business relations.

Keep in touch, and let’s look to the future.  Happy New Year to all!


Learning from Nature

In the clean up of the information on my computer (more about that in my next post!), I was going through old emails recently, and found several references to biomimicry, which means copying or taking inspiration from natural processes to solve human challenges.  It is such a cool concept, and it is one very effective way in which some companies are investing in nature.  I have used examples of biomimicry in past presentations about ecosystem services, and the unexpected values of nature.

The classic example is the creation of the Velcro hook-and-loop fastener.  The story goes that a Swiss engineer was concerned about seeds of meadow plants sticking to the fur of his dog.  He tried to analyse why the seeds were so tightly stuck to the hairs of the dog, and realised that the little hairs with hooks on the seed acted as anchors.  He replicated the action in the laboratory, and realised that this was a cheap and very efficient way of fastening two sides of material.


Tiny hooks on the surface of this seed.  Photo by Zephyris

Janine Benyus popularized the term “biomimicry” in 1997, with her book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature (1997).  She has now created Biomimicry 3.8, a hybrid social enterprise comprised of a consulting company and a not-for-profit corporation under a single brand and integrated management strategy.

Biomimicry 3.8 has lots of interesting information.  One of the most exciting parts of their website is where I found lots of new and innovative ideas inspired by nature.