Biodiversity, meaning the range of variation in life on earth, is at the centre of IUCN's work, though in the past the Union has addressed it more through component parts, such as species and ecosystems, than as an integrated issue.
In mid-1993, IUCN established an expanded Biodiversity Programme. This grew out of the joint work with the World Resources Institute and UNEP to prepare the 1992 Global Biodiversity Strategy. The aim of the Programme is to help countries design the policies and build the institutions they need to conserve biodiversity and to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity, which came into force on 29 December 1993.
One focus of the Programme is on the economics of biodiversity, a theme of great importance in the Convention but neglected by many conservation groups.
The Programme will also emphasize the link between cultural and natural biodiversity, showing how local knowledge is vital in using and conserving natural resources. At the delivery end, it will boost IUCN's work in helping training courses: in 1993 the Chief Biodiversity Officer contributed to over 12 such courses around the world. Two highlights stand out. First, the Programme established a Global Biodiversity Forum, which met in October 1993. The Forum brings people from all sectors together on neutral ground, so they can consider and debate the complicated issues in the Convention. IUCN hopes that the Forum may help develop informal, multiple solutions to the issues involved through partnerships between all the various interest groups.
Second, the Environmental Law Centre, working with the Biodiversity Programme, has prepared the draft of an explanatory guide to the Convention. The guide explains what the text of the Convention means, article by article, provides background information on the complex issues involved, and considers the implications for national action.
While the Biodiversity Programme addresses the broad picture, mainly at policy level, IUCN contributes to the nuts and bolts of biodiversity conservation through other programmes. Among the largest is the Species Conservation Programme, which provides expertise from over 5,000 volunteer experts in the network of the Species Survival Commission (SSC). Most of the volunteers serve on one or more of over 100 SSC Specialist Groups, each of which covers a group of plants or animals. But there are also six inter-disciplinary groups; for example, one is on captive breeding, another on the problem of invasive species.
The Commission prepares Action Plans for the threatened species in each of these groups of animals and plants. In 1993, Action Plans were published on zebras and wild horses, on seals, on old world fruit bats and on pigs, peccaries and hippos. This brings the total to 25 Plans so far, all on animal groups. A new edition of The IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals was also brought to completion during the year.
The Specialist Groups vary in their capacity to implement their Action Plans, but the growing trend is for them to look beyond just networking and outlining what needs to be done to ensure that action happens on the ground. In 1993, SSC raised funds to allow both the Asian and the African Rhino Specialist Groups to hire Executive Officers. Thanks to a large anonymous donation, the Marine Turtle Specialist Group will soon have a Secretariat. And to raise even more funds, an SSC Special Support Council has been formed.
Plants had been neglected in recent years, but in 1993 a Plants Officer at last joined the Species Conservation Unit at Headquarters. A Plant Conservation Task Force met in November to consider how to develop IUCN's work on plants, which was one of its stronger themes in the past. Also in 1993, IUCN published, in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and WWF, Guidelines on the Conservation of Medicinal Plants. With WHO as one of the authors, these guidelines provide a powerful lever to draw Ministries of Health into the conservation of plants, especially those needed for primary health care.
As before, a major part of the work is helping to implement the complicated Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Under the Significant Trade Project, SSC and the World Conservation Monitoring Centre have reviewed all animal species listed on the CITES Appendices thought to be in danger of harmful trade and made recommendations to the CITES Animals Committee. The Programme prepared for the CITES Secretariat a major report that proposes new criteria for listing species on the Convention. IUCN is also a joint partner, with WWF, in TRAFFIC, an international operation to monitor trade in plants and animals. Like IUCN, TRAFFIC works through a decentralized network around the world, with five Regional Offices, four National Offices, and National Representatives in a further five countries. In 1993, TRAFFIC prepared its own strategic plan, now being considered by a joint IUCN and WWF working group.
The Sustainable Use of Wildlife Programme is closely associated with the Species Conservation Programme and the TRAFFIC operation. In 1993 it continued to develop the text of its guidelines for sustainable use of wild species. It also works closely with IUCN members and with Regional and Country Offices to enable them to respond to issues on sustainable use of wild species. In Chile, for example, the Programme helped the Government prepare a management plan for the sustainable use of vicuna fibre, working with the Aymara people who live alongside the vicuna. Much work has been done to develop proposals for similar projects around the world, notably in Mali, Niger, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines.
The Programme can also help with species traded under CITES. The CITES Secretariat had identified Indonesia, Guyana and Senegal as having serious problems in controlling the harvest of certain species. Each of the three Governments asked for lUCN's help--for example by field surveys and consultative workshops. The Programme works to increase the capacity of governments to tackle such problems and works with them to ensure such harvests are sustainable.
Establishing and managing protected areas is one of the most important ways of conserving biodiversity. To encourage and support this, IUCN has a long-established Protected Areas Programme, which works closely with the Species Conservation and Biodiversity Programmes. This Programme is led by the Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA), and supported by the staff of the Protected Areas Unit at Headquarters.
A priority for 1993 was to make available the results of the very successful World Parks Congress held in 1992. A short and easily readable book of proceedings was published, entitled Parks for Life, which includes the Caracas Action Plan, the Recommendations of the Congress and summaries of the 49 different Workshops held. Four other books arising from the Congress were published or are in press, and further titles are in preparation.
The Caracas Action Plan, developed at the Congress, calls for the preparation of Regional Action Plans as the best way to identify what needs to be done on the ground. In 1993, in addition to the plan for Europe (described later), the team started a Regional Action Plan for East Asia, which was discussed at a CNPPA meeting of over 260 participants in China in September, and also made preparations for Action Plans in South Asia and South East Asia. The work takes time, as the Programme believes in extensive consultation, so that participants feel they "own" the Action Plan and are committed to its goals.
The Programme has long argued for more and better marine protected areas, since conservation at sea has lagged far behind action on land. CNPPA is preparing a report for the World Bank identifying priority areas for conservation of marine biodiversity. Under a parallel initiative on mountains, CNPPA co-sponsored four regional meetings--in Kenya, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.
Another part of the work on protected areas is the Natural Heritage Programme, under which IUCN provides an independent evaluation of all the natural sites proposed by governments for protection under the World Heritage Convention. Due to the power and simplicity of this Convention, inscription on the World Heritage List provides a high degree of protection. IUCN's job is to make sure the List is restricted to truly outstanding areas and that sites have the fullest possible protection before being accorded World Heritage status.
Following IUCN field evaluations of 14 sites during the year, the World Heritage Committee accepted four large new sites onto the World Heritage List. These sites, from Japan, Mexico and the Philippines, total an impressive 616,000 hectares and were the subject of intense conservation debate. Their addition to the World Heritage List is the culmination of long campaigns.
The Natural Heritage Programme also helped establish several large new protected areas that may later become World Heritage Sites. Following a detailed proposal by IUCN last year, the Prime Minister of Pakistan agreed to designate a 300,000 hectare national park in the Karakorum Mountains--a sparsely inhabited area that includes K2, the world's second highest peak. In Canada, the Premier of British Columbia accepted a recommendation from the last IUCN General Assembly that the entire Tatshenshini-Alsek region be protected and nominated as a World Heritage Site. If granted World Heritage status, the million-hectare park will join four other national parks in the U.S. and Canada's Yukon to become the largest treaty-protected site on earth, covering an area larger than Costa Rica.
An important part of IUCN's capacity for sharing and exchanging information is the World Conservation Monitoring Centre, based in Cambridge, UK. The Centre, which is run as a partnership between IUCN, UNEP and WWF, maintains databases on habitats, threatened species, protected areas and wildlife trade. It provides a wide range of services to the Union; for example the IUCN Red Lists and Red Data Books, the Protected Area lists and directories, and a number of habitat atlases are compiled at the Centre. In 1993, the Centre started a process of strategic planning and also moved into a new building, which will greatly improve its ability to provide an effective service.
IUCN's long-standing Forest Conservation Programme remained active at the international policy level. The Union called for the International Tropical Timber Agreement, currently being renegotiated, to be broadened in scope and to be extended to temperate forests. IUCN argued that developed countries should not impose standards on developing countries that they do not accept for their own forests. The same line was taken in IUCN's joint submission with WWF to the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe. The double standards on forestry in Europe and North America are increasingly undermining forest conservation efforts around the world--North and South.
The Programme has also been evaluating its field projects, both to see what can be learnt from each on forest policy and to ensure that they are clearly targeted with well-defined goals. This year also saw publication of guidelines on the collection of non-timber products from the forest and on the promising concept of extractive reserves, following two workshops on this theme in the previous year.
The Wetlands Programme had a year of change and consolidation as it built on the recommendations from its mid-term review, conducted in 1992. The Programme is large and diverse: the core is a set of field projects in over 30 countries, most managed by wetland experts in the IUCN Regional and Country Offices.
In 1993, the Programme recruited a technical adviser in West Africa, who is supervising field projects for the Senegal Delta. A national wetland conference was held in Burkino Faso and an expert group set up for rivers and floodplains in the Sahel. In Asia, working with members and partners, the Programme organized national wetland workshops in Nepal and Vietnam, to produce Wetland Action Plans, and provided training on mangrove management in Vietnam. The Wetlands Programme Advisory Committee set up an expert group for European wetlands, to bring together scientists, conservationists and other experts, and to strengthen the links between East and West.
The 1992 review argued that the Programme should do more to draw out the lessons of its many field projects; to this end, a freshwater management adviser was recruited to the Headquarters staff. Publications are a vital part of this process: a further eight titles were added to the Wetlands Conservation Series this year, and two issues of the popular newsletter were completed: this is now sent to around 2000 members and partners.
During 1992, IUCN's Marine and Coastal Programme was reviewed by an external panel. The resulting report suggested that the main focus of the Programme should be to promote Integrated Coastal Zone Management, already an important and growing part of the work. The Programme has now prepared guidelines on this and continues to work with the regional programmes in designing and promoting a set of projects, in particular for Eastern and Southern Africa, for Central America and for the Mediterranean.
The Panel also recommended that the other main thrust of the Programme's work should be to help ensure that the use of marine resources is sustainable. In cooperation with the Kenya Marine Fisheries Association, the Programme held an international workshop on marine ecosystems and fisheries of the Western Indian Ocean, and is planning similar meetings for other fisheries.
A further recommendation was to give more cohesion to the network and to make sure that lessons learnt reach those on the ground. To achieve this, the first two issues of a Programme newsletter were published and the publication series was boosted; there are now 15 titles in print and a further seven are nearing completion.
At the core of the new Division is the Strategies for Sustainability Service, which is closely associated with the working group of that name in the Commission on Environmental Strategy and Planning (CESP). This Service is continuing and expanding IUCN's work in helping countries develop various forms of strategies, including National Conservation Strategies (NCSs).
To learn from the many strategies done so far and to plough the lessons learnt back into the field, the Strategies Service and CESP have established networks of practitioners in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Each of these networks has now met twice and has worked with the Service to prepare regional reviews of 30 different strategies.
Based on this experience, the Service and its networks are preparing a set of 12 guides on how to develop a strategy; three of them--on local and national approaches, and on monitoring and evaluation--are already in draft form. Also as part of this series, the World Resources Institute, IUCN and UNEP arc preparing a guide on how countries can implement the Article in the Convention on Biological Diversity which requires each State to develop a biodiversity strategy. By providing vital know-how and drawing on real experience, these guides provide valuable help to Union members.
IUCN's Environmental Assessment (EA) Service provides technical assistance to those commissioning or actually doing EAs. It can help define the scope of an EA and can seek out specialist expertise. Once a report is drafted, it can review the draft, to ensure that the report follows best available practice. And once the final report has been prepared, the Service can help all participants use it properly in their decision-making. During 1993, the Service helped with 20 such cases, for example preparing terms of reference for an EA on a proposed natural gas plant on the coast of Oman. Occasionally, the Service undertakes full EA studies itself--one example in 1993 assessed the environmental impact of government policies in Zambia to mitigate the devastating effects of the drought there earlier in the year.
The Service also strengthens national systems for Environmental Assessment, so that countries are less dependent on outside aid and expertise. Specialized training courses are provided to meet specific needs; for example, in 1993 a course was organized in Guatemala on how to develop EA practices. Increasingly, the Service is designing long-term, integrated programmes to build capacity, such as by preparing guidelines and by raising the awareness of senior government officials. National programmes of this kind are already underway in Nepal, Pakistan and Zambia.
The Environmental Law Service is part of the Union's long-standing Environmental Law Programme. The Law Programme is a joint effort between the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law and the Environmental Law Centre, based at Bonn, Germany. The Commission's volunteer network and the Centre's staff collaborate with partners all over the world in developing national and international law, sharing experience and exchanging information. In 1993, the Law Programme also helped with seminars and workshops in Bahrain, Chile, Costa Rica, Kenya and Tunisia. It gave fellowships to bring lawyers to Germany from Fiji, Mauritania and Zimbabwe. It also maintains the Environmental Law Information System (ELIS), which is one of the most comprehensive collections of material on environmental law in the world with over 115,000 citations.
The Environmental Law Service itself helps developing countries review and develop environmental legislation. The Service tries to encourage countries to pass laws that are realistic, matching the needs and capacity of the country and reflecting its culture and economic circumstances. To achieve this, the Service uses expertise from within the country, only using experts from outside to provide international and comparative experience.
Over the last three years, the Service has worked in more than 20 countries. During 1993, it completed reviews of environmental legislation in Argentina, Lebanon, and five countries of the South Pacific, and helped lawyers in Uganda draft an Environmental Protection Bill. It assisted legal initiatives in Botswana, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Mauritania, Mozambique, Pakistan, Romania, Solomon Islands and Syria--a diverse array of countries, each with particular needs for better environmental law.
Social Policy is one of the youngest IUCN Services. In 1993 it has been putting into effect the results of a review the previous year. This identified a new $3 focus for its activities, bringing social needs and concerns into the practice of conservation and development, especially at community level. It will do this mainly through projects of IUCN and its partners, in particular helping communities to ensure that the conservation work done meets local needs and approval.
At country level, the Programme prepared the proceedings of a national symposium in Bangladesh, examining linkages between population, environment and development, as part of the NCS approach. It helped Sri Lanka to enhance community participation in forestry and protected area management. And in Southern Africa it helped develop a training programme for extension workers on community decision-making.
An Indigenous People's Task Force met twice during the year. It reviewed a set of case studies on how indigenous groups manage natural resources and captured the lessons in a guide on how indigenous people can participate in strategic development.
The Environmental Education Service works closely with the Commission on Education and Communication (CEC). Drawing on the wealth of experience available, meetings of CEC networks in Asia and Europe reviewed the draft guide on strategic planning in education prepared the previous year. The Commission itself has regional networks of practitioners in environmental education. A meeting in India in February launched the Asian network, and in South America, a network of educators is coming together. A workshop in August brought together educators from IUCN's projects around the world--IUCN's field work provides some of the richest examples of effective formal and informal environmental education achievements.
Although also a service, Communications is a Division in its own right and was renamed Communications and Corporate Relations Division earlier in the year. The Division provides a range of services to Programmes, such as media relations, supervising the production and distribution of publications, and coordinating communications work at the regional level.
The Union's publications continued to increase, as shown by the many new titles listed on page 30. In particular, during 1993 three more titles were published in the illustrated atlas series in association with Mitchell Beazley--Wetlands, Deserts and the popular version of Caring for the Earth with the new sub-title "A Strategy for Survival." This is a condensation and partial rewriting of the original text, to make it more accessible to the average reader. Revenues from commercial sale of publications again reached a new high, while the vitally important free distribution programme (to institutions and individuals in developing countries) was maintained.
As well as producing the quarterly Bulletin and Interact, the Communications Division also started a new Focus series--short, provocative statements on issues of topical conservation interest--and expanded the concept of Resource Files and information leaflets on individual programmes. A Media and Information Relations Officer, appointed during the year, held two journalists' seminars at Headquarters.
The IUCN Library is creating a Conservation Information Network around IUCN's activities. Beyond providing access to basic bibliographic services--to be made available to all members on-line or on disk in due course-the Library is also linking into global electronic networks and establishing document and publications management capacity in Regional Offices.
In November 1993, the Communications Division convened a workshop that refined the idea of Communications Planning Frameworks, a process to help IUCN Programmes improve their overall effectiveness by clearer strategic thinking on communications.
As IUCN's Programme has grown in scope so too has the challenge of targeting it effectively at the needs of the members. To achieve this, and to take account of the variation in need and opportunity between different parts of the world, IUCN has given increasing attention to drawing up its Programme on a regional basis. In turn, the need to pursue the Programme effectively and at lower cost has led to a major decentralization of the Secretariat to Regional and Country Offices. The emphasis of the regional programmes and the decentralized Secretariat is upon partnership with the members--to make them stronger and more effective as institutions in the front line of conservation.
In designing a broader programme of work with members in the regions, the first step (exemplified by the Southern Africa Programme) is to explain to the members what IUCN is and what it does, and to find out what each of them wants from IUCN. Often the most useful function IUCN can perform is in bringing people together. In many regions, there is much more capacity for conservation than is often realized, and too little contact between the various agencies. This is where IUCN's position as a bridge between government and NGOs is so valuable, providing a neutral forum where both can meet on equal terms, exchange views and work together.
In 1993, significant steps were taken to strengthen IUCN's regional programmes, notably through the appointment of a Director of Regional Affairs at Headquarters with a mandate to review the design and implementation of IUCN's regional programmes and initiate changes as required. The first steps were taken in this direction, particularly in Central America and West Africa.
In the 1960s, IUCN's Africa Special Project helped the leaders of the emerging nations integrate conservation objectives into government policy. The spirit of hope and excitement engendered by that programme is hard to find in Africa today. Governments face severe administrative challenges, population growth continues to outstrip food supply, and natural ecosystems decline relentlessly. All are part of a wider decline in the capacity of the land to support human life.
Faced with this picture of a continent under stress, what is IUCN's role? In the past, IUCN's response has been to work with members and partners to develop projects, with major investments being made to support management of protected areas, forests and other critical ecosystems. But while this approach will continue, in 1993 IUCN has moved forcefully towards a new approach designed to invest our limited resources in broader forms of networking that can help local, national and regional institutions to help themselves.
IUCN's Programme in Southern Africa has pioneered this process and has grown significantly in 1993. Eighteen donors now support the Programme's work on environmental policy and resource management, much of which takes National Conservation Strategies (NCSs) and National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs) as their point of departure. In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, IUCN has played a central role in the development of NCSs and is now focusing upon implementation of these planning frameworks through support to field action by members in priority areas.
IUCN had started a successful programme in Angola, but in 1993, renewed fighting meant that it had to freeze many of its activities there. Instead, it is developing a support programme to government agencies and NGOs called "Preparing for Peace." In Mozambique, where the war has ended, IUCN has worked with its local members to prepare programmes for the rehabilitation and management of the country's natural resources. The aim is to demonstrate that sound environmental management is vital to the country's rehabilitation, not a hindrance to recovery.
As part of its Communicating the Environment Programme (a partnership principally with the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre and the Panos Institute), the first-ever State of the Regional Environment Report is being produced for Southern Africa. In Swaziland, a new environmental education programme has been developed. Training is another theme: together with the Centre for Applied Social Sciences in Zimbabwe, IUCN's Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) has established a regular six week training course for resource managers on how to address the social and human issues in their work.
In Southern Africa, as elsewhere, IUCN encourages transboundary approaches to conservation and management of natural resources. In 1993, ROSA held an international conference on the future management of the Zambezi River Basin, in association with the Southern Africa Development Community. Resulting from the meeting, ROSA is now preparing a proposal for a basin-wide programme on the resource conflicts affecting wetlands along this great river.
The Regional Office can also give members a voice on the world stage. The sustainable utilization of wildlife, especially of elephants, is the subject of much discussion in Europe and the United States, but often fails to involve those from the region itself. In collaboration with WWF and the Africa Resources Trust, IUCN arranged for seven African wildlife managers to visit European capitals and explain their approach to the conservation and development agencies there. The programme also has prepared a book--Sharing the Land--People, Wildlife and Development in Africa--on the sustainable use of wild species, to encourage a more balanced and rational debate.
In Eastern Africa IUCN's Programme grew rapidly this year, enabling it to cope with the growing number of requests for technical cooperation from members and partners. The first-ever meeting of IUCN members and partners in the region in July concluded that the Union should work mainly at the country level, building alliances to combine the strengths of members and partners in addressing conservation problems.
For some years the Programme has worked to ensure the conservation of some of the prime natural sites in the region. In Uganda, one of the main goals is to protect those forests that are important for biodiversity and as water catchments. In 1993 work at Mt Elgon continued and a project started for the conservation of the Kibale and Semliki Forests. In October, the Uganda Government announced that it would upgrade all three of these forests to national parks. In Tanzania, IUCN secured funding for a collaborative coastal zone management project with the Tanga Regional Authority, to be launched in early 1994. The Programme in Kenya extended its cooperation with members and partners. In particular it worked on marine, wetland and biodiversity conservation issues, and maintained involvement in the ongoing National Environmental Action Plan.
In West Africa, 1993 brought restructuring of IUCN's field presence. Greater focus has been given to the development of country programmes and a selected number of regional services, notably on wetland management, sustainable use of wildlife and protected areas. On the basis of this analysis, IUCN is maintaining Country Offices in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, while the former Regional Office in Dakar has evolved into a Country Office for Senegal. Project Offices are continuing in Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Ghana and Nigeria.
This change in structure is designed to strengthen the capacity of the Programme to work at the local level--helping local people to manage their natural resources. Nature is vital for survival, as it provides food, shelter and medicines, and so rural people will protect nature if they can. On this theme, IUCN has projects on the Gaya Forest Resources (Niger), on protected areas (Burkino Faso) and on the Inner Niger Delta (Mali), where IUCN's main contribution is to bring all the different groups of people together, to find an effective way of managing the area and of resolving conflicts on resource use.
A long-standing strength of IUCN's work in the Sahel has been its focus on education. Teams of local teachers, artists and other experts produce environmental magazines for children and visit the schools to work with the children on environmental projects. In 1993, a magazine for Guinea-Bissau was started, called Palmerinha--the little palm tree, a cartoon character. Games, drawings and simple articles stimulate childrens' interest in nature, giving them information that will also help them survive in the harsh environment. Similarly there are Walia (Black stork) covering part of Mali, Zooni (rabbit) in Burkina Faso, and Ekoobol (monkey) in Senegal. These simple but popular magazines have been so successful they have been copied by other organizations and featured in textbooks on education.
In Ghana, IUCN is providing technical assistance to the Game and Wildlife Department in the preparation of management plans for seven protected areas. In Benin, IUCN has conducted a study for the Ministry of Rural Development on the potential for closer integration of rural development initiatives with the management of protected areas. The large wetland project in Guinea-Bissau continued, as did work on wetland conservation in Cameroon and Nigeria.
Central Africa has 80% of Africa's forests and is a growing focus for IUCN's work, but the countries are experiencing political and economic problems and life is often a daily struggle for survival. IUCN adapts its Programme to the rapidly shifting situation as best it can; one tactic is to work in as participatory a way as possible with local people and local administrations, so that the work is less vulnerable to disruption. In Congo, IUCN reached agreement with the government on implementation of the project on protected area management at Conkouati and Lac Tele. After several years of planning, field work is about to begin.
Perhaps most advanced is the project for the Itombwe Region in Eastern Zaire, one of the richest areas of evergreen forest in Africa. Yet, like so many other tropical forests in Africa, it is under great pressure from people cutting trees, grazing animals and planting crops as they try to make a living from the land. Under the first phase of the Itombwe project, IUCN has helped the Zaire Institute for Nature Conservation (IZCN) bring together information on the flora and the fauna of this remote area and on the people who live there. Most important, IUCN and IZCN have worked at local level to build a true partnership with villagers, with local NGOs and with local administrations. As a result, they have been able to prepare a substantial long-term conservation and development project for the region, designed to safeguard both the unique wildlife and to raise the standard of living of the people.
In North Africa, IUCN raised its profile in 1993. A regional workshop on biodiversity was organized in Tunis in November. This produced in particular a series of recommendations on how to move forward in conserving biodiversity in the region. The Union also held its first-ever meeting of members, prospective members and partners in the area. Participants were keen for IUCN to become more active in their important but neglected region, linked to the Union's work in West Asia.
IUCN National Committees provide a mechanism for carrying forward this process of membership involvement in Programme development. In 1993, National Committees in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela have met regularly. In the last three, the Committees have prepared national IUCN Programmes. By providing a mechanism for the members to work together, these Committees and their Programmes provide a marvellous demonstration of the potential of the Union and a model to be followed in other regions.
In support of this work the Regional Office in Quito, Ecuador, is being strengthened. Of particular note is the appointment in 1993 of a Regional Programme Officer for SSC/CNPPA.
In Central America, 1993 has been a year of transition from a project-focused Programme to one more oriented towards the needs of the members. An internal review of the Union's Regional Programme and operational structure concluded that substantial restructuring was required to make best use of available resources. This in turn led to the appointment of a new Regional Director in May, a regional meeting of members in July, establishment of the Regional Members Committee, and the first of a series of National Programme Workshops (in Guatemala and Honduras) in December. National Offices in El Salvador and Mexico have been closed and staff reduced in Nicaragua, Panama and Guatemala, with resources being redirected to help the members.
During this transition, the Union's regional theme programmes have continued. The regional Wetlands Programme has concentrated its activities on coastal wetlands and in particular mangroves in Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. With the move to greater focus on networking, there has been a reduction in project work. However a new project has begun on forest conservation in Panama and major initiatives for the Gulf of Fonseca, Rio Coco and a Regional Biodiversity Programme have been prepared under the Tropical Forestry Action Plan for Central America. IUCN will continue to support these activities in the way that can best assist members to develop their long-term capacity.
The IUCN Secretariat has no presence in the Caribbean. However in August 1993 members from the region met in Jamaica and urged greater support to the region from Headquarters. A clear strategy for developing the Union's work in the region will be prepared in 1994.
At present the core of IUCN's response is the development of National Conservation Strategies (NCSs). In Nepal, where IUCN assists in implementation of the NCS approved in 1987, the programme was evaluated by the donor and funding for a further three years was agreed. In Bangladesh, work on the NCS also continued with approval of the implementation phase by Government and the donor.
Indochina is emerging as a major focus. In Laos, Phase I of an NCS project was completed, under which the need for a Strategy was confirmed, a Prospectus was written to outline the main issues to be addressed, and a guide prepared to explain how participants can contribute to the overall process. IUCN is now seeking funding for Phase II, in which the NCS will be prepared. Management planning for protected areas is also moving ahead, with the implementation of two management plans and approval of projects to prepare management plans for six more.
In Vietnam, work started on the preparation of the Biodiversity Action Plan, while in Cambodia IUCN established a Liaison Office in Phnom Penh and began operations. After decades of conflict, Cambodia needs help to rebuild its institutions for the management of natural resources. IUCN is helping to provide training to government staff and is planning projects on biodiversity and protected areas--to reverse decades of environmental damage. As its first field activity the Office has helped UNESCO prepare the Zonation and Environmental Management Plan for the area around the famous monuments of Angkor Wat.
In Sri Lanka, IUCN has concentrated on the conservation of the Wet Zone forests, with their exceptional wealth of endemic trees, medicinal herbs and other plants. In 1993, after many years' work, management plans were completed and agreed for the famous lowland forest protected areas of Sinharaja and Knuckles. The Government requested IUCN's help in extending the work to the other 13 remaining intact forest areas of the Wet Zone. Together with Sinharaja and Knuckles, these sites represent the most intact areas of lowland wet forest in Sri Lanka.
In June, members from West Asia (and North Africa) met in Amman, Jordan, to review IUCN's work in the region. They called for a stronger focus upon the region, a call which will need greater resources in 1994 if it is to be met. As IUCN moves to address this challenge it does so from a solid base of achievement to date. The Pakistan country programme is currently IUCN's largest (see box) and yields lessons for the Union's work worldwide. In Jordan 1993 has seen growing interest in implementation of the NCS.
In Oman, IUCN has helped the Ministry of Environment and the regional municipalities begin the implementation of the coastal zone management plans which IUCN was instrumental in completing in 1992. In Saudi Arabia, IUCN also helped with coastal zone management and with implementation of a protected areas system plan. In Lebanon, IUCN helped the Government prepare a proposal on biodiversity and protected areas for submission to the GEF. Activities also began for the first time in Qatar and Syria, in both cases focusing on institutional strengthening.
IUCN completed, during the year, its extensive study of damage to the marine and coastal environment caused by the Gulf War. The final report catalogues in detail a wide range of studies carried out by national and other agencies. These studies show a very varied response, reflecting the complex mixture of vulnerability and resilience that characterize natural systems. On the one hand, shrimp populations in 1991-2 were only a quarter of their pre-war levels, with spawning down by 90%. On the other hand, by 1992 oil levels had declined over much of the affected coastline to levels comparable with those before the war.
In the Pacific, IUCN makes its principal contribution through the South Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), usually by providing technical assistance to nominated projects. In 1993, IUCN undertook a review of the environmental laws in a range of island nations, identifying gaps and deficiencies. The Union also held two training courses on Environmental Assessment in the islands.
Finally, the Union has strong and active National Committees in New Zealand and Australia. These hold regular meetings to discuss issues in their countries and provide links with the IUCN networks. And IUCN's programme in Antarctica is carried forward by a consultant based in New Zealand.
A main focus of its work is how to provide long-term conservation finance for developing countries. This falls under two initiatives. Firstly, IUCN-US is working with IUCN Headquarters to influence the direction of the Global Environment Facility (described below). Second, IUCN-US is working to promote a global initiative that would establish National Environment Funds throughout the world--vital for building local capacity for conservation. In partnership with a broad group of IUCN members and constituents, a design phase has been completed, start-up support provided to Funds in Colombia and Peru, and contacts made with donors to encourage establishment of Funds in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
As elsewhere, IUCN's activities are designed to meet the needs of the members, who are represented on a Programme Advisory Group for the region. One theme is to evaluate the status of various ecosystems in Central and Eastern Europe, and plan strategies for their management and restoration; those for grasslands and wetlands were completed in 1992 and 1993. Another is to promote sectoral policies that will benefit conservation and sustainable development; in 1993 publications were produced on agricultural policy and on tourism, accompanied by demonstration projects to put the ideas into practice on the ground.
The European Programme also covers activities for the whole of Europe. Significant contributions were made to the preparations for the European Environment Ministers Conference (Lucerne, April 1993) and to the associated report, Europe's Environment 1993, giving emphasis to biological and landscape diversity. The IUCN Protected Areas Programme, working with the European Programme, prepared two drafts of its Action Plan for Protected Areas in Europe, to which over 150 individuals and institutions have contributed.