The 2012 IUCN Congress at a glance

  • Date: 6-15 September 2012  
  • Place: International Convention Centre, Jeju Island, Republic of Korea 
  • Slogan: Nature+
  • Attendees: 6,000 to 8,000 delegates from 150+ countries
  • Hosts: IUCN, Government of Korea, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.

Who goes to an IUCN World Conservation Congress and what happens there?

  • The IUCN Congress is the world’s leading event for decision-makers and all sectors of society to discuss conservation and development.
  • It attracts a broad range of people from government ministers and industry chiefs to local community leaders. Nearly 7,000 delegates from 179 countries attended the last Congress in Barcelona.
  • IUCN Congresses are held every four years. Until 1996, they were called General Assemblies.
  • The 2012 Congress starts with a Forum where IUCN Members and partners discuss cutting-edge ideas and practice. The Forum then guides the IUCN Members’ Assembly, a unique global environmental parliament of governments and NGOs.
  • During the Members Assembly, IUCN Member organizations agree major policy issues, elect IUCN’s President and Council (the organization’s governing body) and set the work programme for the coming four years.

Setting the global conservation agenda

  • Each Congress sees the adoption of a number of Resolutions and Recommendations that guide conservation policy and action. More than 1,000 resolutions have been adopted to date.
  • At the 1978 IUCN General Assembly, a resolution was passed which became the World Conservation Strategy, the first document to put the phrase “sustainable development” into the international vocabulary. This phrase has now entered the mainstream of development thinking and has had a profound influence on conservation and development practice throughout the world.
  • Through its resolutions IUCN has long been a champion for the concept of people as part of nature and has made a major contribution to ensuring that the world’s cultural diversity is included as part of mainstream conservation.
  • As early as 1954, IUCN identified the importance of dealing with the effects of pesticides on mammals, birds and insects. This led to the Basel Convention on Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
  • At the 1958 General Assembly in Athens, IUCN laid the groundwork for the World Heritage Convention and has continued to play an important role in its implementation.
  • The General Assembly, in Warsaw in 1960, laid the foundations for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), another convention to which IUCN has made substantial contributions.
  • The main elements of the Convention on Biological Diversity were identified at the Christchurch General Assembly in 1981

Identifying emerging issues

  • In 1960 IUCN Members were already calling global attention to the impacts of climate change decades before it was recognized as a major issue.
  • Numerous IUCN resolutions have galvanised action to save individual species. Tigers were singled out at the New Delhi General Assembly in 1969 (10/15), which helped lead to India’s Project Tiger, which was launched in 1972 and has been credited with saving the Bengal tiger.
  • IUCN was instrumental in calling the world’s attention to the amphibian crisis and how to address it, making this a top global conservation priority.
  • At the 1958 Athens General Assembly, Members agreed that IUCN should promote the establishment of a United Nations List of National Parks and Equivalent Reserves, and take responsibility for compiling the list. This is now known as the World List of Protected Areas, and includes more than 100,000 sites.
  • The IUCN World Conservation Congress has been held in all corners of the world:

    2008 Barcelona


    1972 Banff

    2004 Bangkok


    1969 New Delhi

    2000 Amman


    1966 Lucerne

    1996 Montreal


    1963 Nairobi

    1994 Buenos Aires


    1960 Warsaw

    1990 Perth


    1958 Athens

    1988 San José


    1956 Edinburgh

    1984 Madrid


    1954 Copenhagen

    1981 Christchurch


    1952 Caracas

    1978 Ashkhabad


    1950 Brussels

    1975 Kinshasa


    1948 Fontainebleau

  • Traditionally, a World Conservation Congress is hosted by one of IUCN’s State Members. Preference is given to countries and regions where Congresses have not been held in recent years.