It may not be front page news, but next year there will be a major shift in the management of two of the world’s largest environmental organisations. What will this mean for future global nature conservation policy?
In 1980, the collaboration between the largest environmental NGO in the world (WWF International), the largest international network of organisations dealing with biodiversity and nature (IUCN) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) resulted in the publication of the World Conservation Strategy. This was widely acclaimed as the blueprint for the concept of sustainable development. The sequel, “Caring for the Earth – a strategy for sustainable living” was published by the same three organisations in 1993 as a response to the Rio Earth Summit. From 1988 to 2000, IUCN, WWF and UNEP also managed jointly the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, the global biodiversity institute responsible for biodiversity assessments and policy advice, which is now part of UNEP.
During the past decade, collaboration between the three organisations has not been as productive as it was in the eighties and nineties. Recent announcements may well herald a major change. WWF has advertised the position of Director-General, as the incumbent Jim Leape is leaving in early 2014. IUCN announced on its web-site last week that its Director-General Julia Marton-Lefèvre is also stepping down in 2014, and the process for her replacement has started.
What will this transition bring for the future? Will IUCN and WWF get closer, or move further apart? Can we expect some new joint action in the village of Gland in Switzerland where both IUCN and WWF have their Headquarters? Could the economic crisis in Europe encourage a Secretariat shift towards the East or towards the South where UNEP is located already? What about a new major IUCN-WWF-UNEP initiative to set the scene for the future?
Time will tell…..