Protected Areas

Global Standard

At the heart of the IUCN Green List Programme is a globally applicable Standard. It provides an international benchmark for quality that motivates improved performance and achievement of conservation objectives. By committing to meet the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas global Standard, site managers seek to demonstrate and maintain performance and deliver real nature conservation results.

The IUCN Green List Standard

The objective of the Standard is to "encourage protected and conserved areas to measure, improve and maintain their performance through globally consistent criteria that benchmark good governance, sound design and planning, effective management, and successful conservation outcomes."

The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Global Standard front cover image Photo: IUCN The IUCN Green List Standard is organised into four components of successful nature conservation in protected and conserved areas. The baseline components concern:

 Good Governance

• Sound Design and Planning

• Effective Management

Together, these support the component on Successful Conservation Outcomes attesting to the successful achievement of an area’s goals and objectives. Each component has a set of criteria and each criterion has a set of indicators to measure achievement.

GL Standard chart

Globally Consistent, Locally Relevant

The Criteria are globally consistent requirements that collectively describe the efforts needed to fully achieve the Standard. A ‘Green List’ site is one that is currently evaluated to achieve all criteria, across all four components. The Standard is implemented through a jurisdictional approach, tailored to each country or region where it is adopted. The programme allows for flexibility for each jurisdiction to implement the Standard. For each criterion in the Standard, a set of Generic Indicators and associated Means of Verification is maintained by IUCN. These generic indicators may be adapted to the context of each participating jurisdiction, to allow for reflection of regional and local characteristics and circumstances in which protected and conserved areas operate. The guidance for this process is detailed in the next section on Programme Implementation

Assurance and Evaluation

The IUCN Green List Programme assures that ‘Green List’ sites are effectively and equitably managed, and achieving successful conservation of their values. A global partnership with Accreditation Services International (ASI) provides the programme with a proven Oversight Body tasked with assurance of the Programme. The assurance mechanisms and procedures in place ensure independence and credibility of decision-making. Participation by individual protected areas, conserved areas, and their governing agencies is entirely voluntary, through commitment to promote continuous improvement through the Standard.

Global Codes of Good Practice for Sustainability Standards

IUCN is committed to ensure its Green List Programme follows best practices for inclusive, credible and effective standard-setting and implementation processes.

The IUCN Green List Standard is seeking to comply with ISEAL requirements by 2019.

The ISEAL Alliance's mission is to strengthen sustainability standards for the benefit of people and the environment. ISEAL is one of the global leaders that are defining and communicating what good practice looks like for sustainability standards.

ISEAL's three Codes of Good Practice are seen as global references for developing credible standards. All steps in the standards and certification process, including standard-setting, impact evaluation and assurance (certification and accreditation) have a role to play in the effectiveness of a system. These Codes of Good Practice are applied by leading standards systems, and compliance is an ISEAL membership requirement.

Read more about ISEAL’s Code of Good Practice

The IUCN Green List Standard development phase 2012 to 2016

In 2012 an IUCN Resolution (WCC 2012-Res-041-EN) called for the development of objective criteria for ‘Green Listing’. The IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme accordingly convened a global development and consultation process to create and test a new Standard for protected areas. A pilot phase in eight jurisdictions was undertaken with results presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney, November 2014. A total of 25 protected and conserved areas received a ‘Green List’ certificate for their achievements.

Since September 2015 the IUCN Green List Performance Standard for Protected and Conserved Areas is open for consultation. 

Through an online survey open through to the end of January, the first round of open consultation resulted in 161 submissions, from over 500 individuals, in multiple languages. These covered more than 5,000 specific comments and suggested edits. The consultation follows the ISEAL Alliance code of best practice in sustainability standards development.

Comments focused on what contributors think should be the hallmark of a conservation area in the 21st Century. All suggestions received were given equal weight and consideration by an IUCN Standard Group and associated experts. An event hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme -World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) convened a diverse and multi-disciplinary team of experts to help shape the latest revisions to the Standard.

In November 2017, the IUCN Green List Standard Version 1.1 was approved by the IUCN CouncilIUCN prepares for a new wave of ‘Green List’ conservation success.


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