Introducing Sue Mainka, Head of IUCN Science and Learning

Sue Mainka has been appointed Head of Science and Learning in the newly established Science and Learning Unit in IUCN.  This is the new home for the Commission on Education and Communication within the IUCN Secretariat.

Dr. Susan Mainka

Sue Mainka has been appointed Head of Science and Learning in the newly established Science and Learning Unit in IUCN. In this new post her responsibilities include building a higher profile for the science generated by IUCN and supporting the integration of science into what IUCN does, and developing and promoting knowledge management standards and practices. This team is part of the larger Programme and Policy Group in IUCN, the group that includes programme support, policy, monitoring and evaluation, and programme cycle management.

What is her vision for her new Unit? "I would like the Science and Learning team to catalyse a new appetite and motivation to integrate science as a way to make IUCN’s work more effective and efficient.  Learning is an important part of science and, hopefully, the work of the S&L team will reflect an attitude towards learning and adaptation and benefit from it."

And how will CEC be engaged? There are two aspects to that answer, Sue explains, with the first relevant to all Commissions. "IUCN needs to better profile that available science it has, especially in Commissions which we advertise as our ‘science banks’.  I am starting discussions with each Commission Chair as to how to best integrate Commission science in IUCN’s programme delivery and how to better profile the science that IUCN is producing.  CEC is part of those discussions," Sue explains.

Within CEC, Sue is particularly interested in expertise related to knowledge management. "At an institutional level, IUCN needs to continually work on knowledge management and learning and, of all our Commissions, CEC has some unique expertise to contribute.  The programme officer which we are about to recruit will have a specific task to ensure that CEC is specifically linked in to relevant networks and processes to facilitate the KM and learning as much as possible – through introduction of new ideas and technologies and support for the cultural shift that will be needed along with the technology"

Sue has extensive experience in species conservation and programme management and a keen interest in ensuring policy is informed by sound, relevant and timely science. She has held several positions in IUCN since 1997 and has played key roles in IUCN’s Congresses.

Sue Mainka was born in Toronto, Canada, She currently lives in Switzerland. A veterinarian with 20+ years’ experience in wildlife conservation. Over the years she has worked on Giant Panda conservation based in the Wolong Nature Reserve in China, on captive management of wildlife in several countries, and as a clinical veterinarian both in a zoo environment and in private practice in Canada. Sue has been with IUCN since 1997 and was Head of the IUCN Species Programme from 2001-2004, prior to joining the Global Programme Team.


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