The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) was founded in 1948 and was the world's first global environmental organization. Their original name was the International Union for the Protection of Nature which followed an international conference in France. Their mission, as laid out on their website, is to 'influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature'. The IUCN vision is for a world which values and conserves nature.
Today, IUCN is the largest professional conservation network across the globe and is a leading authority on both the environment and sustainable development. IUCN consists of over 1,000 member organizations across 140 countries. These are broken down into 200 government and 800 non-government groups. Amongst the membership are 11,000 experts and scientists who are grouped into six commissions.
IUCN aims to be a neutral forum for governments, scientists, business and communities to come together and find solutions to challenges in both developmental and conservation fields. They are currently involved in thousands of projects across the world and also participate as an official observer at the United Nations General Assembly.
IUCN funding comes from a variety of sources including foundations, governments, bi and multi-lateral agencies, member organizations and business. It is possible to join IUCN and become a Donor or Partner. Details for this are readily available on their website. IUCN headquarters are based in Gland which is near Geneva, Switzerland, but they have 60 offices around the world, supported by 1,000 staff.
IUCN aims to work at developing and supporting conservation science. They concentrate especially on biodiversity, ecosystems and species which have particular impact on humans and their livelihoods. Projects are run in the field to aid better management of natural environments. IUCN also aims to support those who develop laws, policies and practices which affect nature conservation. They also help to ensure those laws and policies are implemented to the best of their potential.
IUCN believes it is necessary in the world today because it works to develop knowledge and conservation science and aims to ensure that humanity finds a balance between our ever growing needs as a race and the preservation of our world, species and ecosystems. Nature provides much of what we require to survive, such as water, food and shelter, and finding a way for humanity to live alongside that which sustains us is a major issue.
Visiting the IUCN website gives access to a wealth of information about what projects they are involved in. The knowledge center provides a variety of publications, IUCN documents and conservation action tools which will explain further how their work affects the world. For a complete rundown of what IUCN is doing currently and has one in the past, visit the 'What we do' and 'Where we work' pages.
IUCN is working hard to provide help, support and information to teach us how to preserve and develop our world without ruining the very systems which support our existence.