Facts & figures on the IUCN World Conservation Congress


International Convention Centre, Jeju

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.

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