Strengthening IUCN in Europe: Message by IUCN Director General

Dear Members, partners and friends,

Julia Marton-Lefèvre

At 64 years of age, and in the midst of global economic and environmental crises, IUCN wants more than ever to be at the forefront of natural solutions for our future and well-being. In Europe, like everywhere else in the world, IUCN is the leading authority on conserving nature and natural resources for people’s livelihoods, setting standards and fostering policies.

To fulfill its mission and role, IUCN needs to be efficient in its use of resources. In light of recent decreases in funding for biodiversity worldwide, I have had to review our operations and restructure some of our units to make the best use of the resources available.

The IUCN European region, comprising West and East Europe, North and Central Asia, as well as the numerous European overseas entities, includes a very diverse group of IUCN Members and National Committees. The structure of our Secretariat needs to be adapted to better reflect this diversity and to complement their work.

In support of the existing European Secretariat functions, I have decided to share the responsibility for the Secretariat’s support to our 403 European Members among the specialized units of IUCN’s Headquarters. I have appointed Sebastià Semene Guitart, an existing staff member based in Gland, as Senior Coordinator, Europe and Union Development Planning, to take on the tasks of representation and general coordination for our European activities. Sebastià will be identifying, initiating and facilitating opportunities for substantive collaboration with European National Committees and Members in order to consolidate a European Programme that fully reflects the diverse nature and interests of IUCN’s constituents in Europe. He will work in close cooperation with the European Secretariat staff in the IUCN Offices in Belgrade, Brussels, Gland, Malaga, and Tbilisi with the purpose of enhancing the work of IUCN in the region.

This is a new way of ensuring the One Programme approach which, as you know, aims to foster cooperation across the IUCN constituency. This builds on the strength in diversity of the IUCN network and finds operational approaches to enhancing collaboration.

To underline the importance of IUCN’s role in Brussels, we are in the process of recruiting a Director specializing in policy-influencing and fundraising to be based in IUCN’s office in Brussels. The European Union is a major global policy player and the largest development aid donor in the world. Being in Brussels is crucial for achieving our goals of influencing policies, not only for conservation action in the European region itself but also in European overseas entities, which harbor 70% of Europe’s biodiversity, and worldwide. The new Director in Brussels will promote IUCN’s science and knowledge to feed into EU policy-making and the implementation of nature-based solutions.

The positions of Regional Director for Europe and Head of Brussels office have been abolished and their functions will be replaced by the two newly created roles.

The new structure in Europe will lay the foundations for the development and implementation of the IUCN Union Development Plan. The Plan will increase IUCN’s relevance and visibility and it will help manage the expectations of our various constituents and set clear rules for collaboration for the implementation of the IUCN Programme and support delivery on the ground.

With this ambition in mind, I have organized a meeting with the European National Committees in Copenhagen in early January to listen to their ideas and together shape the future of the European region in line with the Union Development Plan. In addition, we plan to engage more directly with IUCN’s State Members in all regions, starting with a meeting with European State Members in mid-January 2013, ahead of the meeting of the new IUCN Council in late January 2013.

Europe is the largest programmatic region of IUCN and contains a third of our global membership. We will be able to achieve our goal of making this world a better place for nature and people only if Secretariat, Members, Committees and also Commissions work together.

I thank you, once again, for your continuous and valuable support to IUCN, and look forward to our continued good collaboration.

Best regards,

Julia Marton Lefèvre
IUCN Director General 

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