Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

Resources and Publications

All the publications below were developed and published either under the auspices of SULi's forebear, the SUSG or other IUCN collaborations that focused on sustainable use. Over time this area will become populated with new material published by the SULi network although the documents, information papers, and guidelines below will be retained.

What is Trophy Hunting?

Trophy hunting (also known as recreational or sport hunting) generally involves the payment of a fee for a hunting experience, usually supervised, for one or more animals with specific desired characteristics (such as large body size or antlers). The “trophy” is a part of the animal such as the horns or head and is usually kept by the hunter and taken home. Meat of hunted animals is usually used for food by local communities or the hunter. It may be a distinct activity from, or overlap with, hunting for recreation or meat. Many deer hunters, for example, may desire a trophy but also hunt for food or for the experience.

Questions and Answers on Trophy Hunting

SULi Central Asia regional meeting: Achieving Conservation Goals Through Community Benefits and Empowerment

In September 2018, SULi co-convened with partners GIZ, Panthera, the Hunting and Conservation Alliance of Tajikistan, TRAFFIC and IUCN Eastern Europe and Central Asia Regional Office a regional meeting to explore sustainable use and community management of wild resources.

Click here to read a workshop summary and to access the report

Wild Life, Wild Livelihoods: involving communities in sustainable wildlife management and combating illegal wildlife trade

This report, co-authored by SULi, highlights key lessons from experience for engaging communities in combating unsustainable use and illegal wildlife trade, and sets out eight key insights to guide action.

Click here for more information

IUCN's encounter with 007: safeguarding consensus for conservation

A controversy at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress on the topic of closing domestic ivory markets (the 007, or so-called James Bond, motion) has given rise to a debate on IUCN's value proposition. A cross-section of authors who are engaged in IUCN but not employed by the organization, and with diverse perspectives and opinions, here argue for the importance of safeguarding and strengthening the unique technical and convening roles of IUCN, providing examples of what has and has not worked. Recommendations for protecting and enhancing IUCN's contribution to global conservation debates and policy formulation are given.

Click here to read this open access article

The baby and the bathwater: trophy hunting, conservation and rural livelihoods

This paper explains how trophy hunting, if well managed, can play a positive role in supporting conservation as well as local community rights and livelihoods, and provides examples from various parts of the world. It was published in a special edition of Unasylva on Sustainable Wildlife Management with articles from members of the Collaborative Partnership for Wildlife (CPW) by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

Click here to read this paper on Trophy Hunting, Conservation and Rural Livelihoods

From Poachers to Protectors: Engaging Local Communities in Solutions to Illegal Wildlife Trade

Combating the surge of illegal wildlife trade (IWT) devastating wildlife populations is an urgent global priority for conservation. There are increasing policy commitments to take action at the local community level as part of effective responses. However, there is scarce evidence that in practice such interventions are being pursued and there is scant understanding regarding how they can help. In this paper we set out a conceptual framework to guide efforts to effectively combat IWT through actions at community level. 

Click here to read this open access article

Developing a theory of change for a community-based response to illegal wildlife trade

The escalating illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is one of the most high-profile conservation challenges today. The crisis has attracted over US$350 million in donor and government funding in recent years, primarily directed at increased enforcement. There is growing recognition among practitioners and policy makers of the need to engage rural communities that neighbor or live with wildlife as key partners in tackling IWT. However, a framework to guide such community engagement is lacking. We developed a theory of change (ToC) to guide policy makers, donors, and practitioners in partnering with communities to combat IWT.

Click here to read this open access article

IUCN Briefing Paper - Informing Decisions on Trophy Hunting 

Trophy hunting is currently the subject of intense debate globally, with moves at various levels to end or restrict it.  This briefing paper draws on a set of case studies to highlight that while there is considerable poor practice in trophy hunting and a strong need for reform, well managed trophy hunting can - and does -positively contribute to conservation and local livelihoods in the face of intense competing pressures on wildlife habitat and widespread poaching.  This paper was originally drafted to inform EU parliamentary discussions around import restrictions on hunting trophies and was subsequently updated as a broadly applicable guidance document for responsible decision-making.

Click here to read this briefing paper

Beyond Enforcement: engaging communities in tackling wildlife crime

Alarming rises in illegal wildlife trade over the last decade show that tougher law enforcement is not enough to stop poachers from devastating populations of iconic or endangered species. However, the trend towards increasingly militarised law enforcement can harm communities who live alongside wildlife and have real power to protect it. A recent symposium led by IUCN’s Sustainable Use and Livelihoods (SULi) Specialist Group, along with IIED and other partners, discussed the incentives and governance structures needed to effectively engage local people in wildlife conservation. Local people must be allowed to benefit from conservation efforts and be supported by responsive, efficient law enforcement agencies as equal partners in the fight against wildlife crime.

Click here to read this briefing paper

The trade in wildlife: A framework to improve biodiversity and livelihood outcomes

Trading wild species and their products internationally is both a great opportunity and a great threat. Trade in wildlife is a major source of income for millions of people in rural communities globally. It can link poor, rural communities to wealthy and increasingly environmentally aware markets, increasing the benefits of wild resource conservation and providing incentives to maintain species and habitat while generating critical livelihood benefits. However, unsustainable and illegitimate trade in wildlife can drive species toward extinction, fuel wildlife crime, and undermine local livelihoods and governance structures. What factors determine whether specific wildlife trade chains are positive or negative for conservation and livelihoods? This study provides an analytical framework to enhance understanding of wildlife trade and guide interventions that seek to conserve biodiversity while respecting human needs. It encompasses four sets of factors: biological, governance, the trade chain, and end markets, discussing each and providing examples of how they impact on livelihoods and conservation.

Click here to read this study

Beyond Enforcement: communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating wildlife crime (Symposium Report)

SULi and partners convened a path breaking symposium in February 2015 focused on the role of communities in combating poaching for illegal wildlife trade. The symposium was attended by over 70 researchers, community representatives, government officials, UN agencies and NGOs from five continents and generated a set of key conclusions and policy recommendations.

Click here to read this report

Sustainable Use Policy Statement and brochure

The IUCN Policy Statement on Sustainable Use was adopted at the 2nd World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan, via resolution 2.29. The process that produced the policy statement involved extensive consultation and a high degree of consensus among our membership. A Sustainable Use Policy brochure provides background information and serves to re-emphasize the fundamental importance of sustainable use to the IUCN, its vision, and its activities. sustainable development hinges on the successful integration of efforts to conserve nature and eradicate poverty. Promoting sustainable use of natural resources represents one important avenue that leads in this direction. The SUSG would like to thank the author of text, Mr. Robin Sharp CB, Chair of the European SUSG for his role in the production of this brochure.

Click the following links to download this brochure in English (PDF, 432Kb), Spanish (PDF, 429Kb), French (PDF, 427Kb)

Click here to read the Policy Statement online

Achieving Sustainability Manual

This 2001 manual was assembled under the IUCN VALEURS Project for the purpose of providing government administrators, educators, researchers and representatives of the NGO community with an overview of the concept of sustainable use.

Click here to read this manual

Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity

The Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for the Sustainable use of Biodiversity consist of 14 interdependent practical principles, operational guidelines and a few instruments for their implementation that govern the uses of components of biodiversity to ensure the sustainability of such uses. The principles provide a framework for advising governments, resource managers, indigenous and local communities, the private sector and other stakeholders about how they can ensure that their use of the components of biodiversity will not lead to the long-term decline of biological diversity. In a series of articles we analyze the AAPG and discuss the implementation of the principles in various contexts.

Click here to read these guidelines

Analytic Framework

This tool was produced by a multidisciplinary team of experts, and provides an overview of the different issues that must be considered in assessing use practices: Economic, ecological, socio-political, institutional, etc. The framework includes various modules or domains of analysis to aid understanding of the complexities of sustainability.

Click here to read this analytic framework


SULi members in Europe were responsible for drafting the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity, which was adopted in 2007 by the Council of Europe's Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). This charter draws on the CBD Principles from Addis Ababa (AAPG) and Malawi (Ecosystem Approach) to advise governments how to encourage conservation through hunting, and also recommends responsibilities for hunters.

Click here to read the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity

Following resolution 4.032 (Trust Building for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use in line with the European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity) at IUCN's WCC4, the same drafting team of SULi members produced a European Charter on Recreational Fishing and Biodiversity which was adopted by Bern Convention in 2010 (and continuation of the process is producing a European Charter on Fungi-gathering and Biodiversity in 2012).

Click here to read the European Charter on Recreational Fishing and Biodiversity

CITES & Sustainable Use

Although the words 'sustainable use' don't appear in the Articles of CITES, a major thrust of the convention is to ensure that wildilfe trade "will not be detrimental to the survival of that species". As a result of the significant trade review process outlined in Resolution Conf. 12.10 (Rev.CoP13 - Guidelines for a procedure to register and monitor operations that breed animal species for commercial purposes), the 'non detriment' determination is essentially the mirror image of sustainable use.

In the trade review process, Appendix II species subject to signficant trade undergo a review that usually includes an examination of total harvesting offtakes at the national level. If a species is being traded without detriment, then it is being used sustainably.

IUCN worked with the CITES Secretariat and Parties to provide a checklist to help make non-detriment findings for Appendix II Exports. Although some years old, the checklist is still of considerable importance to sustainable use since it represents a qualititative attempt to identify the factors that that lead to sustainability. IUCN has long realised the need for studies of sustainability for drawing broader conclusions about the factors that underpin sustainable use so that we can develop the necessary tools for policy makers and managers who are faced with daily responsibilities and challenges of resource management.

Click here to read the Checklist to assist in making non-detriment findings for Appendix II exports

Sustainable Use: Concepts, Ambiguities, Challenges

This paper was prepared for an SUSG strategic planning meeting in July 2007. It reviewed and reconsidered the meaning of the term “sustainable use”. It sought to raise questions and stimulate and inform debate, rather than to reach settled conclusions. It comprises a subjective analysis and is informed by Dr. Rosie Cooney's personal observations of and participation in sustainable use debates.

Click here to read this report

Information Paper: Comparing the Ecosystem Approach & Sustainable Use. February 2004

The Ecosystem Approach and sustainable use represent two approaches, at two different scales, to the management of living natural resources and biodiversity conservation. Both approaches have been endorsed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which has provided an important institutional context for their development and elaboration. Each approach establishes a certain goal and offers direction and recommendations on how that goal is to be realised. Both approaches are characterised at a high level of generality. This is appropriate in that both are intended to be applied in a wide variety of circumstances, but it has raised questions about their exact meaning and manner of implementation. One pressing issue, which is the subject of this paper, concerns the relationship between the two approaches. It is suggested that the Ecosystem Approach provides an over-arching framework for biodiversity management, with sustainable use as one element within that framework. The paper, authored by Barney Dickson of Fauna & Flora International and Steve Edwards of IUCN, begins by briefly outlining the main stages in the evolution of the Ecosystem Approach and sustainable use in the context of the CBD. It then compares the two approaches and, finally, considers the appropriate relationship between them.

Click here to read this information paper


In 2006 the SUSG held a workshop to plan further work on indicators for sustainable use. The workshop, hosted by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the SUSG, brought together experts from diverse countries, technical backgrounds, and institutions.

Biodiversity contributes directly and indirectly to human well-being. It is essential for the functioning of ecosystems and the sustained flow of benefits from ecosystems to individuals and societies. The loss of biodiversity contributes to worsening health, lower food security, increasing vulnerability, lower material wealth and worsening social relations. But how will we know if we have reduced the rate of decline in biodiversity loss if we have no baselines of biodiversity, its use and disappearance? Indicators help us monitor the situation.

Global indicators for biodiversity identified by the Conference of Parties of the Convention of Biological Diversity are at different stages of development and implementation. Those for sustainable use remain undefined. In some cases the indicators that could be used for sustainable use need little further work, in other cases there is significant work to do in developing the indicator and/or the underlying datasets. The workshop participants consolidated knowledge of what has been done so for planned further work in this important area.

Click here to read this report

Lessons Learned in Sustainable Use

Lessons Learned: Case Studies in Sustainable Use, produced by IUCN and NORAGRIC - the Agricultural University of Norway - and with funding from NORAD comprises six technical papers that highlight specific use practices and analyse the social and biological factors that enhance their sustainability. The papers use the Analytic Framework - an overview of the different issues that must be considered in assessing use practices: Economic, ecological, socio-political, institutional, etc. - as a starting point from which to analyse marine resource use, forestry regimes, Multiple Use Marine Protected Areas, trophy hunting and community wildlife management.

Click here to read these case studies

Precautionary Principle

The precautionary principle is an important concept in conservation but was first developed to deal with the unknown risks of technological innovations. Many unresolved issues surround its application in a conservation context. What, for example, should be done if the proponents of a potentially damaging activity are not governments or corporations but ordinary hunters or farmers, unable to fund research to prove that their actions are not harmful? And sometimes preventing an activity can also carry risks: banning use of forest products might seem like a good precaution but a forest with no direct economic value might perhaps be cleared for agriculture. These guidelines for applying the precautionary principle were produced by the Precautionary Principle Project for decision-makers, researchers, and practitioners in conservation and natural resources management.

Click here to download the Precautionary Principle guidelines

Sustainable Use Technical Series

Improving the understanding of the factors that influence the sustainability of uses of wild natural resources:

Hard copies of the SUI Technical Series and information concerning all IUCN's publications can be obtained from: IUCN Publications Service. Email:

IUCN White Oak Principles

In 2001, a workshop was organized to identify and design practical 'tools' to implement an Analytical Framework developed by the SUSG (see above), and recommend procedures to test the tools. Participants felt that a clear definition and guiding principles were necessary to provide a common context within which the Analytical Framework might be used.

Click here to read the White Oak principles

2nd Pan-African Symposium

The 2nd Pan African Symposium on Sustainable Use was held on 24-27 July, 2000 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The purpose of the symposium was to explore the impact of development on the sustainable use and the conservation of natural resources in Africa.

Click here to read about this symposium


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