Preparing national conservation strategies

Preparing country conservation strategy

Identifying the country's most urgent environmental needs, thus assisting decision makers in determining conservation priorities, allocating limited resources, building the institutional capacity to handle complex environmental issues, and building consensus on the optimal, long-term use of its natural resources.


Founded in 1948, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) brings together states, agencies and NGOs in some 125 countries. IUCN assists the above members by supporting the preparation and implementation of strategies to conserve nature and ensure sustainable use of natural resources. IUCN represents member views on the world stage and provide them with the strategies and other services they need to achieve their goals. IUCN focuses in particular on biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. IUCN has helped many countries prepare National Conservation Strategies (NCSs) and demonstrates the application of its knowledge through the field projects it supervises.

In general, an NCS seeks to answer four basic questions: (1) What is the stock of resources available to the country on which its development must rely? (2) What is the condition of these resources and what trends can be identified? (3) What pressures on the resources cause them to be used unsustainably? and (4) What actions would eliminate the obstacles that have been identified and bring resource use onto a sustainable footing? On the basis of review, analysis and assignment of priorities an NCS seeks to define the best possible allocation of human and financial resources to achieve the goals of sustainable development – development with conservation. As conceived, the NCS process is not merely to prepare a strategy document, but also to ensure the resources and commitment to implement the strategy. An NCS brings together clear statements of the activities required to achieve conservation, estimates of the resources needed to implement those activities and implementation schedules. It also should include a proposal for monitoring the implementation of the strategy and for updating it regularly.

Article 3(1) of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern 1979) requires contracting party to take steps to promote national policies for the conservation of wild flora, wild fauna and natural habitats, with particular attention to endangered and vulnerable species, especially endemic ones, and endangered habitats, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention.


National Conservation Strategies (NCSs) were proposed by the World Conservation Strategy in 1980 as a means for countries to take a comprehensive, cross-sectoral approach to conservation and resource management. The purposes of NCSs are to focus attention on conservation priorities, to stimulate appropriate action, to raise public consciousness, and to overcome apathy or resistance to taking the actions needed. National and subnational strategies are intended to provide a means of concentrating and coordinating the efforts of government agencies, together with those of nongovernmental conservation organizations – their planning an execution is primarily the responsibility of governments, with nongovernmental organizations involved to ensure that all of the resources available to conservation are deployed coherently. At 1993, NCSs or NCS-related activities were under way in more than 69 countries or their regions.

The European Conservation Strategy, 1990 is based on the principles of the reports Our Common Future (1987), the World Conservation Strategy (1980), the UN Economic Commission for Europe's Strategy for Environmental Protection and Rational Use of Natural Resources in ECE Member Countries (1988) and UNEP's Environmental Perspective to the Year 2000 and Beyond (1988). It was adopted at the Sixth European Ministerial Conference on the Environment, Brussels, 11-12 October 1990. The objectives of the Strategy are the promotion of a culture that respects nature for what it is, to base economic, social and cultural development on a rational and sustainable use of natural resources, making Europeans aware of and involve them in environmental and conservation issues, and achieving sustainable development and conservation. Four principles to meet these objectives are specified: (1) safeguarding of species, ecosystems and essential natural processes should be an obligation for all people; (2) the acceptance by all European states of the principle of sustainable development; (3) economic and social development within a healthy environment; and (4) the shared responsibility of all sections of society, institutions and authorities for the conservation of the environment. The member states of the Council of Europe should apply the objectives and principles of the Strategy as appended to the Recommendations in all their policies. Specifically, national conservation strategies should be drawn up. The Strategy also included recommendations for developing sustainable policies in different sectors (air, inland waters, lakes and rivers, seas, soil, wildlife and biotopes, landscape conservation and agriculture).

Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 15: Life on Land