Call for nomination of Chair and Members of the IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use Specialist Group

The Chairs of CEESP and SSC seek nominations for the position of SUSG Chair (or two Co-Chairs). Candidates should preferably be familiar with both CEESP and SSC, and be committed to working cross-sectorally across different disciplines. Nominations should be submitted to by 31 August 2011, and should include a cover letter and a curriculum vitae. Self-nominations, and nominations of other people, are both permitted, but nominations of others should include a statement as to whether or not the person in question has agreed to serve if appointed. The intention is to appoint the chair of the SUSG before the end of October 2011. Expressions of interesting in joining this new Specialist Group as a member can be sent to:

SSC logo Photo: SSC logo

Sustainable Use Specialist Group (SUSG) of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Economics and Social Policy (CEESP) and the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC)

Terms of Reference


The use of biodiversity, both of wild species and natural ecosystems, is still frequently unsustainable, and the means to deliver sustainability are often inadequate. This overuse of the world’s living natural resources is jeopardizing the delivery of the ecosystem goods and services on which all people depend, and is driving many species ever closer to both biological and economic extinction. Achieving sustainability in use is therefore a major priority at global, regional, national and local levels. The Sustainable Use Specialist Group (SUSG) has for many years been a Specialist Group of the SSC, with regional sections covering much of the world. One of the most notable achievements of the SUSG to date has been the development of the IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use of Wild Living Resources, adopted at the 2nd IUCN World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan, in October 2000. This statement represents the broad consensus of the IUCN community, and, among other things, recognizes that “both consumptive and non-consumptive use of biological diversity are fundamental to the economies, cultures, and well-being of all nations and peoples”, and that “use, if sustainable, can serve human needs on an ongoing basis while contributing to the conservation of biological diversity”. The task of the SUSG is to help all relevant stakeholders throughout the world to put this policy into practice.

Following the adoption of Resolution 4.039 (Cross Commission Collaboration on Sustainable Use of Biological Resources) at the 4th IUCN World Conservation Congress, the SUSG is now being redeveloped as a joint initiative of SSC and CEESP. Collaboration is also anticipated with other IUCN Commissions, such as the Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM). In October 2009 the SSC and CEESP held a workshop in Cambridge to plan the redevelopment of the SUSG as an inter-commissional specialist group in response to Resolution 4.039 (it is recognized that, as part of the redevelopment of the SUSG, its name might be changed; the abbreviation SUSG is retained in this docment for convenience). At this meeting it was agreed that the SUSG should build on earlier work, and adopt a new strategic approach built to address eight “problem statements”, organised under the headings of Understanding, Communicating and Implementing. These problem statements, listed below, effectively provided the overall context for the re-development of the SUSG:


  • Problem: There is no common understanding and application of sustainable use tools, concepts, theory and practices
  • Problem: Knowledge (local, traditional and scientific) and cultural understandings do not adequately inform the sustainability of use of biodiversity, and in particular traditional and local knowledge are not given mutual and equitable consideration.
    Problem: There is inadequate focus on how climate change is affecting sustainable use and sustainable livelihoods, and the knowledge and practices generated from sustainable use are not being drawn upon to develop adaptation [and mitigation] strategies.


  • Problem: Our knowledge is not being used effectively to make use more sustainable and equitable, or to promote use where it can be an effective conservation tool.
  • Problem: There has been inadequate communication to show that biodiversity provides essential services, that its use needs to be sustainable, and that use can be an important conservation tool.


  • Problem: Given the paramount role that sustainable use plays in the IUCN Mission Statement, and the partially successful mainstreaming of sustainable use across IUCN’s programmes, there is a worrying disconnect between different components of the organization working on sustainable use in relative isolation from each other, and there has been inadequate leadership to further develop the theory and practice of sustainable use, or to carry important lessons into the policy arena.
  • Problem: Even where good knowledge exists, there are internal and external institutional and organisational barriers (political, legal, ideological) to the attainment of sustainability and especially to the deployment of sustainable use as a conservation tool.
  • Problem: Sustainable use (the tools, the concepts, the practices, and theories) is neglected in key policy arenas.

In summary, in contemporary conservation and development practice, the concept of sustainability has come to encompass much more than the traditional concepts and contexts of the discussion around “sustainable use”. Today it is clear that sustainability encompasses and relies on the integration of a complex combination of ecological, social and economic considerations.


In this context and in serving inter-Commissional interests of SSC and CEESP, the newly-re-established SUSG will take on the issues of sustainable use in the broader context outlined above, and will conduct its work to deliver in three key areas of endeavour:

  1. Enhancing our understanding of theory and practice
  2. Exploring, adapting and innovating
  3. Enabling and supporting implementation towards the achievement of sustainable outcomes

The SUSG’s work will not be restricted to large mammals but will also include the use of plants (from medicinal to timber species) and marine living resources, and draw on the lessons from community-based natural resource management around the world.

1. Enhancing our Understanding of Theory and Practice

To achieve a common understanding, a broader engagement with the IUCN community on the issues of sustainability, sustainable use of biodiversity, and the key linkages to human livelihoods will be needed.

Specifically, the SUSG will synthesize existing case studies and seek out current good practice from and among holders of different types of knowledge. In particular, case studies will be sought that integrate the social aspects (respecting and understanding all peoples, cultures and traditions), the ecological understandings (across taxonomic groups and crossing the divide between traditional knowledge and western science), and the economic underpinnings of sustainability (delving deeply into the incentives required to ensure that any and all use benefits human livelihoods and the persistence of species and ecosystems).

To this end, the SUSG may need to establish both long-term working groups and limited-life task forces to address specific thematic issues. Through these groupings, the SUSG will seek to develop a common understanding and deeper insights into the conditions that determine sustainability vs. unsustainability along the three lines of enquiry (ecological, social, economic).

2. Exploring, Adapting and Innovating

The SUSG will be constantly exploring, innovating and promoting experience-based, evidence-based experimental and adaptive responses to the challenges of making use sustainable.

In so doing, the SUSG will be constantly striving to understand the role of all players in the need to achieve sustainability in terms of the use of species and ecosystems. To further this need the SUSG will catalyse work to incorporate new thinking and experiences across a wide range of relevant stakeholders around the world – from civil society to governments to the private sector – in search of lasting solutions to the issue of sustainable use.

In adapting to our changing world, the SUSG will work with others to explore how climate change is affecting sustainability (in particular, the relationship between ecological and social impacts), to bring existing knowledge and practices from Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and Community-based Conservation (CBC) experiences and to create further innovation on the development of sound adaptation and mitigation strategies in those areas where species, ecosystems and human inhabitants are likely to be most heavily impacted. This may involve the creation of or contribution to new mechanisms to convene players from across the IUCN Commissions to make rapid progress on these issues.

3. Enabling and Supporting Implementation Towards the Achievement of Sustainable Outcomes

Using the knowledge and expertise of its membership, the SUSG will support and enable others to carry out their programmatic work by helping to build a greater understanding of the role of biodiversity in providing essential services, explaining how its use can be made sustainable and providing support to allow use to remain an important tool in the sustainability toolbox for achieving positive and sustainable ecological, social and economic outcomes.

To this end, the SUSG will use its consolidated knowledge and understanding to enable and support work:

Internal to IUCN - by proactively informing and assisting IUCN’s own planning, programming and policy work. This will likely require enhancing our internal linkages, to:

  • address the current void on internal policy debate on matters pertaining to use and sustainability and contribute to that renewed debate;
  • strengthen the only partially-successful mainstreaming efforts within and across the IUCN Programme to date;
  • remedy the current disconnect between components of the IUCN Secretariat Programme (both thematic and regional) working on sustainable use issues and the Commissions and
  • rejuvenate the leadership on sustainability overall within IUCN.

External to IUCN – by responding to external requests to IUCN (passed on through the Chairs of SSC and CEESP) or by proactively providing expert advice and support to:

  • olster current national, regional and global policy debates on matters pertaining to use and the conditions needed to ensure sustainability;
  • reach out to relevant policy bodies, corporates and others to devise and promote more responsive and appropriate approaches in the context of defining and then reducing or removing the current barriers to ecological, social and economic sustainability, including the removal of perverse incentives; and
  • help make connections and strengthen linkages between those policy mandates most relevant to use of species and ecosystems within CITES, CBD and larger global debates, including Rio+20 and the next iteration of the Millennium Development Goals.

Appointment of the SUSG Chair/Co-Chairs

The Chairs of CEESP and SSC are now seeking nominations for the position of Chair (or possible two Co-Chairs) of the SUSG. The task of the Chair is to rebuild the SUSG as the leading network of expertise on the biological, ecological, social and economic aspects of sustainable use. In rebuilding the network, the Chair will need to integrate the active regional networks from the former SSC SUSG into the new inter-commissional Specialist Group, as well as attracting new expertise to help address the new strategic direction, as outlined above. The Chair/Co-Chairs needs to be willing to foster integration across the SSC and CEESP in a proactive manner, and to have the demonstrated skills to do so.

The terms of reference of the Chair/Co-Chairs are:

  1. To provide overall strategic leadership of the joint SUSG, and to build the network so that it is able to deliver the new strategic direction.
  2. To develop internal structures of the joint SUSG as needed in relation to the outputs that need to be delivered, and to oversee their work.
  3. To ensure close integration with the work of relevant CEESP Themes (TSL, TGER, TILCEPA).
  4. To ensure close integration with the work of SSC, including its taxonomic and thematic Specialist Groups, and Sub-Committees.
  5. To manage the SUSG budget in collaboration with the Chairs of CEESP and SSC, and with the assistance of the Global Species Programme in the Secretariat.
  6. To seek additional funding for the work of the SUSG in collaboration with the Chairs of CEESP and SSC, and with relevant IUCN Secretariat Programmes (both regional and thematic).
  7. To supervise the work of any staff or consultants recruited to work for the SUSG.
  8. To represent CEESP, SSC and, when agreed, the wider IUCN at key meetings, and to promote the concepts of sustainability both within and beyond IUCN.
  9. To provide regular reports on the work of the SUSG to donors, and to the Chairs of CEESP and SSC.
  10. To recommend to the Chairs of CEESP and SSC options for a longer term joint Commission SUSG structure.

A modest budget will be at the disposal of the SUSG Chair/Co-Chairs to start the process of implementing the strategic direction, as defined above.

Work area: 
Social Policy
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