Protected Areas

1. Global Standard

The IUCN Green List Standard

IUCN Green List Standard Version 1.1The 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 accompanying IUCN Green List User Manual.

This User Manual describes: how the IUCN Green List Standard is developed; how the different roles in the supporting programme are defined; how PAs voluntarily commit to the Standard; how PAs are evaluated against the Standard through a set of adapted indicators; and, how observance of the rules and procedures of the User Manual is verified. In addition, the User Manual contains guidance on various aspects that help users implement the rules and procedures of the IUCN Green List Standard process. The User Manual is intended for all participants in the IUCN Green List Programme.

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 the Green List Programme and its implementation follows best practices for inclusive, credible and effective standard-setting and implementation processes.

The ISEAL Alliance represents the leading movement of credible and innovative sustainability standards. ISEAL's mission is to strengthen sustainability standards for the benefit of people and the environment. ISEAL is the global leader in defining and communicating what good practice looks like for sustainability standards.

ISEAL's three Codes of Good Practice (Standard-Setting Code, Impacts Code, and Assurance Code) 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.  ISEAL builds understanding of good practices for standards systems and sets internationally applicable good practice guidance for the implementation of credible standards systems. These Codes of Good Practice are applied by leading standards systems and compliance is an ISEAL membership requirement.

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

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.

View the IUCN Green List brochures


                               IUCN Green List Programme Overview Brochure                                 IUCN Green List Brochure








Go to top