Renewable energy and nature

While the global transition to a low carbon future depends on significant renewable energy development, IUCN is engaging with the private sector, local stakeholders, investors and regulators to identify impacts on biodiversity and local communities and create innovative solutions to address this challenge. IUCN aims to assist actors in the renewable energy sector by providing them with knowledge, tools and best practice, enabling them to identify and effectively manage risks and opportunities associated with impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services, natural-resource dependent livelihoods and rights.





countries with renewable energy targets (REN21, 2021)



 share of power generation by wind and solar in 2021 (Forbes, 2022)



of onshore wind and solar energy installations are occurring in important conservation areas  (Dunnet et al, 2022)

Achieving a climate-resilient future in line with the Paris Agreement targets to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050, requires an immediate, sustained and far-reaching transformation in energy, land-use, infrastructure and industrial systems within our societies.

At scale, renewable energy development can play a prominent role in answering global energy demand while decarbonising the economies. However, deploying vast renewables projects development can lead to unintended consequences on biodiversity and people, throughout the whole project life-cycle (from design and permitting to the operational and decommissioning phases).  

"Large-scale expansion of solar and wind energy is vital for a sustainable, low-carbon future. However, developers must take care to ensure that these technologies do not unwillingly pose risks to nature and livelihoods"

                                                                     Dr Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General

In 2019, IUCN partnered with Electricité de France (EDF), Energias de Portugal (EDP) and Shell to promote the application of the mitigation hierarchy and best available measures to reduce impacts associated with solar and wind power (on-shore and off-shore) projects. This collaboration led to the development of guidelines for energy developers as well as an early risk-screening tool for solar and offshore and onshore wind projects.

In 2022, IUCN is launching a new project, which will identify criteria and tools to select the most optimal location for solar and wind energy development and explore avenues to support responsible sourcing of raw materials. Together with The Biodiversity Consultancy and supported by Fauna and Flora International, IUCN will partner with EDF, Equinor, ENI, Shell, TotalEnergies to generate new knowledge addressed to the project developers, investors, and regulators. The partners will produce new guidelines around biodiversity enhancement and restoration best practices as well as a review with a series of recommendations on the most important elements of cumulative impact assessment as it applies to solar and wind energy developments. The project is also exploring how to minimise impact in the responsible production of raw materials used in renewable energy components