Held in Abu Dhabi, 15–18 September 2015, the meeting was supported by the overwhelming generosity of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), and provided a unique and invaluable opportunity for the leadership of the SSC to meet and to network, to forge new collaborations and build on existing ones, to learn new things and to pass experience and knowledge on. The leaders of SSC renewed their commitment to safeguarding the diversity of life on earth in all its diversity, wonder, and beauty in their Declaration from the meeting.
The constant turnover in the SSC leadership presents challenges in maintaining a close network of experts and so the opportunity to bring together the members of this diverse group is truly momentous. Additionally, Chairs of Task Forces, as well as a number of full-time Specialist Group Programme Officers, all of whom play a crucial role in the activities of IUCN and the SSC, were invited to take part in the meeting.
An ambitious agenda befitting the calibre of the group was developed through an interactive process, including with EAD. The agenda was built on the lessons learned from the 2008 and 2012 meetings, and will be based on the same basic objectives as the 2012 meeting.