Protected Areas

Young Professionals

IUCN WCPA Young Professional Theme

IUCN WCPA Young Professionals

The commitment of the WCPA to engage with younger protected area professionals was first made in 2005. In part it was a response to Nelson Mandela’s call to the IUCN World Parks Congress in Durban in 2003 to engage with younger people.  It was also to ensure WCPA had input from the energy and freshness of thinking of younger people so crucial to modern conservation. It was specifically aimed to bring into our global networks exceptional younger people who have characteristics which identify them as current or potential conservation leaders.

What is the WCPA Young Professionals network?

The Young Professionals (YP) Network of The World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is a voluntary group and a collective forum of like-minded youth and young professionals associated with protected areas and conservation in diverse capacities. Membership of the group is on the basis of individual interest and relevant experiences in relation to protected areas as well as a willingness to assist in a voluntary capacity with the work of WCPA. In general, the following types of people are members of the WCPA YP Network:

  • Young managers, leaders and practitioners of protected areas;

  • Young experts in relation to the fields of WCPA's interests;

  • Young academic specialists, students, researchers in areas relating to protected areas and conservation; and/or

  • Young representatives from relevant non-government organisations involved with protected areas and conservation.

From “Our Pact for Parks, People and the Planet” (Blue Mountains WHS, October 2014)


Thank you to Justin Totemical for the use of his artwork (

Our Vision is a community of protected area leaders of different generations, geographies, and genders learning and working together within and through the IUCN.

Our Mission is to foster intergenerational partnerships between established and emerging young Protected Area (PA) leaders and professionals to contribute in meaningful ways to the work of WCPA and broader IUCN in valuing and conserving biodiversity, governing nature’s use and sharing its benefits equitably, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges.

Our Goal for 2013 – 2016 is to increase proactive and meaningful participation of emerging young PA leaders and professionals in the priority areas of WCPA in conserving nature, developing capacity, achieving quality, respecting people and offering solutions.

Our Objectives:

  1. Increase membership of Young Professionals (YPs) in the WCPA with greater diversity of membership across regions, indigenous and local communities, and expertise;

  2. Increase and improve involvement of young members in the Task Forces, Specialist Groups, Projects, Programs, etc. of the WCPA and IUCN, in collaboration with established Commission Chair, Vice-Chairs, leaders and members;

  3. Contribute towards professional and capacity development for young WCPA members;

  4. Ensure YPs are active participants and voices heard at global conservation and protected area events;

  5. Raise awareness of WCPA-IUCN and promote the work of young protected area leaders among youth-oriented environmental/conservation organizations, networks, universities, and initiatives;

  6. Greater recognition and implementation of Intergenerational Partnership as an important partnership strategy within the IUCN.


Pre-World Parks Congress Gathering, Blue Mountains WHS, Australia 2014 - Our Pact Collective

Our Pact: Commitments to Action

At the 2014 World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia 30 young people from around the world gathered at the Blue Mountains World Heritage Site to draft “Our Pact for Parks, People and the Planet.”  This Pact serves as our commitment to an action plan to create the better more beautiful future we want for and through protected areas.  Watch a video of Our Pact below.

Terms of Reference of WCPA YP Members

Candidates should:

  • Be under 35 during the IUCN Quadrennial.

  • Fulfil the description of ‘an exceptional younger person who has personal and/or professional characteristics which identify them as a current or potential conservation leader’.

  • Have a background of studies or learning in conservation and be engaged in or pursuing roles or careers closely related to the WCPA's vision and mission.

  • Have developed a body of expertise relevant to WCPA and have a long term commitment to sharing that expertise with others around the world for conservation outcomes.

  • Demonstrate a specific commitment to the concept and role of protected areas as set out in the IUCN Protected Area definition and key principles (Dudley, 2008).

  • Be committed to the Mission and Vision of WCPA.

  • Contribute to the WCPA Specialist Groups (SGs) and Task Forces (TFs) according to their areas of interest and expertise, as YP activities will be integrated within the broader WCPA work programme.

  • Avoid membership being sought as a badge or addition to a CV for early entrants to conservation careers.   

  • Understand all our work is undertaken in a voluntary capacity and be willing and able to contribute time and effort to the work of the WCPA.

How to Become a WCPA YP Network Member?

All members of WCPA who are 35 years or younger are eligible for a membership in the WCPA YP Network.  

To be inscribed as members of WCPA YP Network, individuals must:

  • Apply to the WCPA by filling out the online survey. You will be added to the WCPA YP Network if you 35 years or younger before 2020-.

  • On approval, the member is added to the WCPA (via IUCN Portal) and a confirmation email is sent with a request to join the WCPA YP GoogleGroup Listserv. Please be sure to check that this email does not go to your Junk Folder, as all of our communications are sent through this Listserv.

Membership of any IUCN Commission is for the IUCN Quadrennial following the IUCN World Conservation Congresses. It needs to be renewed every four years following the Congress.   

All new YP Network members should familiarise themselves with the WCPA Governance Document and other IUCN governance documents.

Other Ways to Connect with the WCPA YP Network:

WCPA Young Professionals Vice Chair: 
Mariasole Bianco

Work area: 
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