The work of the Council focuses on providing strategic direction for the activities of the Union, the discussion of specific policy issues and the provision of guidance on finance and the membership development of the Union.

The main functions of Council are to:

  • approve the annual IUCN Programme and budget developed within the overall framework of activities adopted by the World Conservation Congress; 
  • review regularly, the implementation of the Programme; 
  • review the work of the IUCN Commissions; 
  • approve the annual report of the Director General and the audited accounts; 
  • admit Members and officially recognize National and Regional Committees; and 
  • appoint and evaluate the work of the Director General.

As provided for in the Statutes, the Council appoints Committees to expedite its work.

The Council meets at least once a year and works in between meetings with the support of its Bureau.