Sep 11

Welcome back to our blog series covering the latest news coming out of the IUCN World Conservation Congress on Jeju Island, South Korea, where more than 8,000 people from around 170 countries have gathered to discuss, debate and deliberate. In the third blog of this series, we cover awards, ‘Top 100s’, and exciting new partnerships.

Wildscreen Patron Sir David Attenborough image

Wildscreen Patron Sir David Attenborough

Outstanding individuals honoured by IUCN

We are delighted to report that Sir David Attenborough, Patron of Wildscreen, has been awarded IUCN’s highest conservation honour, the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal. Sir David was selected to receive this award in recognition of his outstanding service to international conservation. An iconic figure in the wildlife film industry, Sir David has created awareness of the natural world and its vulnerability through his captivating programmes on natural history, inspiring generations to protect and conserve our planet.

IUCN is an organisation of enormous importance for all of us who care about the natural world. There is no other international organisation quite like it, none which is quite so scientifically based, none whose compliments I would value more highly,” said Sir David in a video message to the IUCN Congress.

Further awards have been issued at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, including the Harold Jefferson Coolidge Memorial Medal for outstanding contributions to conservation of nature and natural resources, awarded to Dr Wolfgang E. Burhenne. Eleven other conservation greats were granted honorary membership of IUCN, including Dr Russell Mittermeier of the United States, and Mr Achim Steiner of Germany.


More information:

  • For more detailed information and to see the full list of honoured individuals, read the full press release here
Tarzan’s chameleon image

Tarzan’s chameleon

Priceless or worthless?

This is the question being asked as a new report – which identifies 100 of the most threatened species on Earth – is released by IUCN and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

Topping the list of species are Tarzan’s chameleon, the spoon-billed sandpiper and the pygmy three-toed sloth, all of which are pretty charismatic species, but conservationists are concerned that this is not enough to save them. The worry is that as these species do not provide obvious ‘benefits’ to humans, they may be allowed to be driven to extinction. The publication hopes to promote the conservation of ‘worthless’ species, and Dr Simon Stuart, Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, explains why: “All species have a value to nature and thus in turn to humans. Although the value of some species may not appear obvious at first, all species in fact contribute in their way to the healthy functioning of the planet.


More information:

Mountain gorilla image

Mountain gorilla

Saving the world’s natural wonders

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, and IUCN is marking the occasion by calling for stronger measures and increased resources to guarantee the future of World Heritage sites. A worrying 8% of the 217 natural World Heritage sites are currently on the World Heritage Danger List, with 25% being affected by serious conservation issues.

Too many World Heritage sites are left with few resources to ensure their proper management, risking their role as natural flagships for the protection of critical habitats and unique wildlife vital to the future of our planet,” said Tim Badman, Director of IUCN’s World Heritage Programme. The success of World Heritage has been the way it has recognized exceptional places and focused international attention on their protection. But there are worrying signs that the Convention could become less effective if it does not uphold its standards and it will need decisive action to remain relevant to the growing conservation needs of the 21st century.


More information:

  • Read the full press release here
Spoon-billed sandpiper image

Spoon-billed sandpiper

Battling species extinction through partnerships

IUCN and Microsoft are joining forces in a new partnership which aims to tackle species extinction by strengthening the information available on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The IUCN Red List is the starting point for conservation action. Many species have been saved from extinction through conservation programmes based on sound science,” said Dr Jane Smart, Director, IUCN Global Species Programme. “The skills and knowledge that Microsoft brings to The IUCN Red List partnership will be invaluable in developing policies and conservation programmes to protect species.

Microsoft has already developed a new software application which enables users to query and map relevant IUCN Red List information, which will be important in capturing spatial information on species-specific threats.


More information:

  • Learn more about the new partnership by reading the full press release here


It’s certainly full steam ahead in Jeju, so check back again soon for more exciting news!


Kathryn Pintus, ARKive Species Text Author