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US National Committee annual meeting notes 2018

IUCN National Committee for the USA

Annual Meeting – June 18, 2018

Conservation Pavilion, National Zoo, Washington, DC

Summary Meeting Minutes


Christopher Dunn, Chair, IUCN National Committee for the USA; The Elizabeth Newman Wilds Executive Director, Cornell Botanic Gardens

C. Dunn offered a general welcome to the members everyone and thanked them for their support of the National Committee and for making the effort to attend the annual meeting. He read a letter of greetings from John Robinson, North American Councilor to IUCN (attached as an Annex to these meeting notes). The following individuals were then introduced:

Steven Monfort, Acting Director, National Zoo; John and Adrienne Mars Director and Chief Scientist, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

S. Monfort thanked everyone for attending. He noted that many in attendance were members of specialist groups. He articulated the connection between IUCN and the National Zoo and Smithsonian Institute. He emphasized the need to encourage more conservation biologists at the Smithsonian to join IUCN.

Frank Hawkins, Director, IUCN North America Office

F. Hawkins thanked everyone for coming and the National Zoo and Steve Monfort for hosting. He sent everyone best wishes on behalf of the Director General Inger Andersen, who could not attend for medical reasons. He expressed her wish of combining the 70th Anniversary of IUCN with a future USNC meeting.


Christopher Dunn provided an overview of agenda and what is to be accomplished during the day and reviewed the year since the inaugural USNC meeting in June 2017. The main point of the agenda were to discuss effective means of communication, dealing with issues and concerns of members, increasing membership, and establishment and support of subcommittees.

Frank Hawkins reviewed the purview of the IUCN North America office, its work, and how it engages with members. He explained that it has international organization status and is an out-posted office of IUCN Headquarters. The office has a budget of over $2.6 million for core staff and $10.3 million for core projects. The Office has programs for Global Forests and Climate Change; Ecosystem Based Adaptation; Global Governance and Rights; Office of the Chief Economist; Global Commons Project; Biodiversity Assessment Unit; Strategic Partnerships; IT Support; and Finance. The Office supports United States based projects. Its main focal areas are membership, with support to US and Canadian members, programme development, which includes proposal support and engagement with USAID, and communication. IUCN-US is a separate 501(c)3 charitable foundation with 13 board members. It has two finance sectors that engage with support to international financial institutions and private sector conservation efforts.

Tom Lovejoy, USNC Executive Committee; IUCN-US Chair

T. Lovejoy reported on large-scale conservation needs in the context of climate change, and noted the timeliness of this National Committee meeting. He remarked that ecosystems come apart if global temperatures increase in excess of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Biodiversity models often ignore the idiosyncratic relationships within individual ecosystems, and species survival is hard to anticipate as ecosystems unravel. Lovejoy noted that 2 degrees Celsius is frequently used as a target temperature cap, but 1.5 degrees Celsius should be the target. Some sequestration or reclamation of atmospheric CO2 is possible through ecosystem restoration. He ended by articulating that the human aspiration must be embedded in nature and the 2020 CBD Conference in Beijing is the last decade of opportunity for biodiversity conservation. He mentioned his forthcoming book on climate change and biodiversity.

Christine Dawson, US Government Representative; Director, Office of Conservation and Water, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, US Department of State

C. Dawson started by thanking the Smithsonian Institute and IUCN-US for hosting the meeting. She called for everyone to rededicate themselves to conservation. She emphasized the important role IUCN plays in nature conservation. Furthermore, she reaffirmed US Government support for IUCN, offered best wishes for the future, and assured members of the US Government’s commitment to conservation.


Russ Mittermeier (Moderator), USNC Executive Committee

Jon Paul Rodriguez, Chair, Species Survival Commission (SSC)

Jon Paul Rodriguez acknowledged that Commissions are challenged in engaging with members effectively. He noted that Commissions need to be better linked to national organizations because species are saved at the national level. He gave an overview of the SSC, which currently has 6505 members. The Commission’s priorities are increasing diversity of membership; capacity building; bolstering work at national scales; conservation action; increasing the Red List; communication; and policy creation for the 2020 CBD Conference. He estimated that members of the Commission have contributed $45,112,606 in volunteer hours. He concluded by noting the need to integrate his Commission functions with the three pillars of IUCN and the strategy of “act, assess, and plan.”

Sean Southey, Chair, Communication and Education Commission (CEC) S. Southey began by noting the remarkable potential of the IUCN network. He outlined the structure of the CEC, which has a Steering Committee composed of 18 members and more than 1400 members. He estimated that CEC members have contributed $1,780,000 of volunteer hours. The Commission’s priorities are #NatureforAll, a social media campaign to bring people closer to nature; youth engagement; Communication Connects, a 360-degree approach to behavior change; and the post-2020 and CBD goals. Southey also discussed World Environment Day, for which the Commission designed comic book series distributed through UNICEF. He finished by noting the conclusions of a paper on the evidence that a closer connection to nature promotes conservation.

Kristen Walker, Chair, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) K. Walker discussed the main priority of the Commission: enhancing social science across IUCN. She noted that discussions of social science frequently center on economics, but other areas of social science, such as social justice and equity, must be a part of nature conservation. K. Walker reminded the members articulated that environmental degradation affects the most vulnerable communities first. She described the Commission structure as consisting of a Steering Committee; Executive Committee; Regional Vice Chairs; Thematic Groups; Specialist Group Chairs; and Knowledge Basket Chairs.

A partnership between the Commission and WCEL on a joint specialist group, Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Law, was noted. Ms. Walker listed a number of Commission highlights, including creation of governance and rights programs; People in Nature; natural resource governance framework; culture, spirituality, and conservation; affirmation of the role of indigenous cultures in global conservation efforts; and a stronger role of the social sciences in IUCN. She shared that members have donated about $10 million worth of volunteer hours.

Brock Blevins, US Member, Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM) B. Blevins (representing CEM on behalf of Charlotte Moser) noted that the Commission provides a strong scientific backbone for IUCN. The Commission uses an ecosystem-based approach that incorporates a sociological element to assist with management. The Steering Committee represents the different regions of IUCN. The Commission has thematic groups, such as ecosystem restoration; disaster reduction; ecosystem resilience; ecosystem governance; and nature-based solutions. The Specialist Groups focus on certain ecosystems. To join CEM, a member must have a degree in ecosystem management or substantial experience. The Commission has a newsletter, listserv, Facebook, and Twitter.

David Reynolds, Member, World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) D. Reynolds provided some background information regarding the WCPA, including that it has over 2500 members, 23 Steering Committee Members, 21 Specialist Groups, and five task forces. Ten percent of the members are young professionals.

The Commission’s mission is to develop and provide scientific and technical advice to enable effective management of protected areas. The Commission objectives are achievement of Aichi Targets; promote protected areas as natural solutions; invest in protected areas systems; and support efforts to raise standards and practices of protected area governance and management. The Commission has taken interest in marine protected areas, which now include 16% of coastal waters. The Commission’s challenges include expanding regional WCPA networks. Opportunities include regional priorities and meetings; partnerships with members; new initiatives like Urban Alliance; direct support to IUCN members; and CBD issues. Future events include COP14; WILD 11; World Parks Congress 2019; South America Protected Areas Congress; Africa and Asia Parks Congresses 2019; and Salzburg Parks and Planet Forum. Recent success for the Commission include establishing the largest protected marine area in Mexico; Canada adding $1.3 billion to protected areas; and Colombia and Brazil creating more protected areas. The Commission’s North American priorities include moving beyond the Aichi Targets; biodiversity; Connectivity Conservation; Climate Change and Protected Areas; #NatureforAll; People and Parks; Private Protected Areas and Nature Stewardship; Urban Protected Areas; Wilderness; and World Heritage.

The Commission has a joint work programme with the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme. The Commission and IUCN hosted a World Parks Congress in Sydney, Australia in 2014. Congress outcomes included agreements for developments of capacity, marine, world heritage, and a new social compact.

Denise Antolini, Deputy Chair – World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) D. Antolini emphasized that all Commissions working together are a great force for change. The Commission’s Steering Committee is small, but highly motivated and engaged. The Commission has more than 900 members; a requirement for membership is a law degree. The Commission has contributed volunteer hours worth over $2 million in the past year. Specialist Groups include Armed Conflict and the Environment; Compliance and Enforcement; Early Career Group; Climate Change; Ethics; Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Law Joint Specialist Group (WCEL/CEESP); Oceans, Coasts and Coral Reefs; Soil, Desertification and Sustainable Agriculture; Water and Wetlands; and Forests. The Commission’s signature initiatives include the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment; Global Institute of Prosecutors for the Environment; and the Global Pact on the Environment.

In March 2018, the Commission held a subprocess for Judges and Prosecutors at the World Water Forum in Brasília, Brazil which was attended by more than 140 judges and other participants from around the world. The subprocess also hosted the 1st WCEL International Water Justice Moot Court, a collaborative exercise that asked six international law students to address whether rivers have legal personality and how water law will address the climate crisis. The subprocess culminated in the announcement of the “Brasília Declaration” on water law principles.

The WCEL Specialist Group on forests is creating the Model Forest Act, and the Commission hopes to create a similar Act for water. D. Antolini further noted that the 2nd IUCN World Environmental Law Congress will take place in 2019 or 2020. The Commission recently launched an Environmental Law Video Library. Commission members continue to work on global outreach.

Questions for Commissions

How effective are environmental courts?

D. Antolini: environmental courts are as effective as the support given to them. India has a court, but the leadership has shifted, and the government has not recently provided strong support for the court because of its activeness. Active courts tend to receive pushback. In Hawai’i, the court has no resources but is moving along. Environmental courts present an opportunity, but they do not always work.

What are Commissions doing on polar affairs?

K. Walker: CEESP has a partnership with Community Conservation Network working with the Inuit and polar ice cap issues.

D. Reynolds: the WCPA works with people in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

What can be done to meet the target of 160,000 species for the Red List? J. Rodriguez:

SSC’s strategy to target mega diverse countries. Working with national organizations is key for achieving the target.


C. Dunn announced to the membership that Russ Mittermaier recently received the prestigious Indianapolis Prize in recognition of his career in conservation.

C. Dunn then outlined the importance of subcommittees, which will be critical to the effectiveness of the US National Committee, to engaging members in the work of IUCN, and to attracting and retaining members. Breakout groups discussed the establishment and roles of two subcommittees: Policy and Strategy and Membership and Communications.

Report-Out of Subcommittee Discussions

Kristen Walker, Moderator (CEESP Chair, Conservation International)

Policy & Strategy (report by Charlotte Vick and Scott Hajost)

The Committee identified biodiversity loss, climate change, wildlife trafficking, and plastics pollution as key issues to work on. Additional conversation dealt with ocean conservation, presence at the proposed North America Protected Areas conference, collaboration with other IUCN Regional Committees, implementation of IUCN resolutions from WCC 2016 and development of motions for the WCC 2020, proposed terms of Reference for this subcommittee, and issues related to membership. The Committee will develop a work plan over the coming months.

Membership & Communications (report by D. Antolini)

Membership was the main focus. The Committee needs to clearly articulate the value of IUCN membership, including clarifying the benefit to members. Other topics and issues discussed included how the network benefits the member; the alignment of institution missions with IUCN; access to data; and the benefit of joining a large global network. The Committee also discussed who to target for membership, with a main focus likely to be on botanic gardens, arboreta, and zoos. The Committee will identify other groups for outreach and will evaluate how IUCN can reach broader audiences. Messaging needs to be adapt to different audiences.

Group questions/discussion for consideration for Subcommittees

1. How to create synergy between groups?

2. How to increase diversity in groups?

3. How will subcommittees promote regional collaboration?

A: The Executive Committee will lead regional collaboration.

4. What is the best platform for communication?

A: Multiple communication platforms were suggested. Members present in attendance agreed to decide on an effective communication platform.


Scott Hajost, Moderator (USNC Executive Committee)

Wildlife/Forest/IUU Fishing Crime (facilitated by Chip Barber, Sarah Walker, and Crawford Allen)

The group discussed timber and illegal wildlife trade and suggested examining specific US laws to influence other areas. Zoos and aquaria present an opportunity for education and outreach on illegal trade. The group identified IUCN’s role in communities as a first line of

defense. It also discussed policies relating to elephant ivory and its potential to restrict local communities. The group emphasized that learning and sharing must be integrated to work with the larger IUCN network. The group expressed the need for stronger enforcement approaches, including negative and positive incentives. The group also touched on sustainable trade. Finally, the group suggested a coordinated campaign each month on a relevant issue.

Ocean Conservation, including Polar Regions (facilitated by Charlotte Vick, Michele Kuruc) The group concluded that a lack of marine capacity in the IUCN-DC office hinders progress. The group identified issues that should be considered: IUU fishing and enforcement; Arctic and Antarctic and melting ice; plastics pollution; coral reefs; migratory animals; new marine protected areas; and shipping fuel pollution.

Climate (facilitated by David McCauley)

The Climate group announced that it would frame actions and identify what IUCN members can achieve. The group noted the Global Climate Action Summit in California (September 12-14, 2018). The Summit is an opportunity for non-State members. The group emphasized the need for nature-based solutions, such as forest carbon conservation; mangrove conservation; blue carbon; and climate change adaptation. The 2020 World Conservation Congress is a major opportunity to increase dialogue on climate change targets. The group concluded by calling for inclusion of indigenous peoples issues and organizations.

Other topics

The moderator referred to the memorandum, Engaging with Foreign Policy Think Tanks, submitted in advance by Ted Trzyna and circulated to the membership and encourage members to consider it and, if interested, to engage with Ted. The memorandum is attached as an Annex to these meeting notes.

Members were provided a preview of the WWF/Vulcan film, Chasing The Thunder. The trailer can be viewed HERE.


D. Antolini discussed the need for resources to support the USNC, as the National Committee has no staff, no budget, and no other resources. The National Committee (i.e., all US members) is a volunteer effort. She asked members to lend individual and organizational time as much as possible and to volunteer skills and resources they can provide to the effort.

Members suggested alternating coasts for meetings to avoid an east coast “bias.” C. Dunn will approach the San Diego Zoo Global to see if they might host future USNC meeting(s).

S. Southey suggested hosting local socials for members. Hosting the USNC after regional fora or attaching members’ meetings onto already planned events was also suggested.


C. Dunn thanked the staff of the US North American office, particularly Frank Hawkins, Deborah Good, and Ya’el Seid-Green, who coordinated many of the logistics and scheduled the venue. made the meeting possible. He thanked the two law students from the University of Hawaiʻi William S. Richardson School of Law, Miranda Steed and Emily DeVille, for serving as excellent rapporteurs. He thanked all the US members for attending this 1st official meeting of the US National Committee. An informal reception followed in the conference venue.


Crawford Allen


Beth Allgood

International Fund for Animal Welfare

Denise Antolini

USNC Executive Committee


William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa

Jill Baker

International Association for Impact Assessment

Chip Barber

World Resources Institute

Susan Bass

Earth Day Network

Richard Beilfuss

International Crane Foundation

Brock Blevins


Kaia Boe

IUCN-DC (Gender and Governance)

Lori Brutton

National Whistleblower Center

Elizabeth Daut

US Agency for International Development

Christine Dawson

US Department of State

John Dennis

US National Park Service

Emily DeVille

Guest, rapporteur

William S. Richardson School of Law

University of Hawaii at Mānoa

Christopher P. Dunn

Chair, US National Committee, Executive Committee Cornell Botanic Gardens

Maya Efrati

National Whistleblower Center

Sandra Elvin

National Geographic Society

Christine Franklin

The Pew Charitable Trusts

George D. Gann

Society for Ecological Restoration

Melissa Andersen Garcia

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Will Gartshore


Joseph Goergen

Safari Club International Foundation

Debbie Good

IUCN-DC (Membership)

Alicia Grimes

US Agency for International Development

Scott A. Hajost

US National Committee, Executive Committee National Whistleblower Center

Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition

Healy Hamilton


Frank Hawkins

IUCN-DC (Director)

Chris Hudson

Dallas Safari Club

Nita Hudson

Guest, EarthX (applicant for IUCN membership)

Marshall Jones

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Lane Kisonak

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

Michele Kuruc


Susan Leopold

United Plant Savers

Tom Lovejoy

US National Committee, Executive Committee UN Foundation

Corey Mason

Dallas Safari Club

Jonathan Mawdsley

Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

David McCauley


Kira Mileham

IUCN-DC (SSC Partnerships)

Russ Mittermeier

US National Committee, Executive Committee Global Wildlife Conservation

Stephen Morris

US National Park Service

Greg Mueller

Chicago Botanic Garden


Steve Olson

Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Sarah Otterstrom

Paso Pacifico

Meaghan Parker

World Resources Institute

Ann Powers

Center for Global Environmental Legal Studies at Pace University

David Reynolds

George Wright Society


Ali Raza Rizvi

IUCN-DC (Ecosystem based Adaptation)

Jon Paul Rodriguez


Ya’el Seid-Green

IUCN-DC (Strategic Partnerships/Grants)

Sean Southey

PCI Media Impact


Miranda Steed

Guest, rapporteur

William S. Richardson School of Law

University of Hawaii at Mānoa

Paul Trianosky

Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Inc.

Marcelo Tognelli

IUCN-Biodiversity Assessment Unit

Charlotte Vick

Mission Blue/Sylvia Earle Alliance

Kristin Walker

Conservation International Chair, IUCN CEESP

Sara Walker

Association of Zoos and Aquariums US Wildlife Trafficking Alliance

George Wallace

Rainforest Trust

IUCN National Committee for the USA

June 2018

Washington, DC

IUCN National Committee for the USA, Executive Committee

(L to R: Scott Hajost, Denise Antolini, Christopher Dunn (Chair), Frank Hawkins (ex officio), Russ Mittermeier. Missing: Tom Lovejoy)


Letter to members from John Robinson, North American Councilor, IUCN Friends and Colleagues,

I am sorry that I cannot be with you today, but after 5 years of rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, the New York Aquarium is finally fully reopening, and I have to be there!

But I did not want to lose the opportunity to recognize how far the U.S. National Committee has come over the last three years. It was at the IUCN Regional Forum in 2015 that U.S. members decide to formally pursue the idea of a U.S. National Committee. We owe an especial debt of gratitude to Paul Salaman (head of the Rainforest Trust), who moved the process forward, chaired the session at the Hawai’i Congress which voted to establish the Committee, and hosted the inaugural meeting of the Committee in Airlie in June 2017. That journey was supported by Frank Hawkins, Debbie Good, and the IUCN-US team, without whom we would not be where we are. IUCN U.S. members engaged forcefully through the election of Executive Committee, and now that the Executive under the leadership of Christopher Dunn, provides a focus for our collective activities.

With some 100 IUCN Members in the United States, we represent an important constituency within the IUCN family. The U.S. National Committee offers us a way to develop a more unified voice in support of conservation, both within the United States and globally. I would also argue that the National Committee also offers us an opportunity to align the interests of U.S. members with the broader IUCN through its Council. Over the last two years, as your Regional Councillor, I have sought to be responsive to the interests and concerns expressed in the Executive Committee, but I do think that the Committee can channel more input from the U.S. members and that it would be productive if we establish stronger mechanisms for me to report back through the U.S. National Committee to Members. I would also note that my term as Regional Councillor will be coming to an end in 2020, and it would be appropriate for the U.S. National Committee to consider how to engage and facilitate the election of the next Regional Councillor.

Finally, I would note the importance of the next World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France. The engagement of the French Government in the Congress, and their expressed commitment to conservation is a breath of fresh air on the world stage. The intent is to make the Congress a platform for world leaders coming together to develop a consensus in preparation for the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020. That Convention will help define the post 2020 Agenda. This provides a wonderful opportunity for IUCN and its Members to influence the global dialogue.

I wish you success in your deliberations today.

John Robinson


Memorandum from Ted Trzyna

June 10, 2018

To: Christopher Dunn, Chair, IUCN U.S. National Committee From: Ted Trzyna, InterEnvironment Institute

Re: Engaging with foreign policy think tanks

I recommend that the IUCN USNC give priority to encouraging U.S.-based foreign policy think tanks to take global loss of biodiversity more seriously.

Foreign policy institutes can have a great deal of influence on opinion shapers and decision-makers, directly and indirectly, but tend to give little attention to biodiversity. Those based in the U.S. often set the tone for similar institutes in other countries.

An important case in point is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), often regarded as this country’s most influential foreign policy think tank. One of its initiatives is the Council of Councils (CoC), which works to “connect leading foreign policy institutes from around the world in a dialogue on issues of global governance and multilateral cooperation." The CoC’s members are in 26 countries and include such top-ranking groups as CFR itself, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London, and the Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI) in Paris.

The CoC issues a detailed annual Report Card on International Cooperation that ranks Ten Global Challenges in terms of importance. Arrived at by consensus, here is the list for 2017-2018:

1. Preventing nuclear proliferation

2. Preventing and responding to violent conflict between states 3. Combating transnational terrorism

4. Preventing and responding to internal violent conflict

5. Mitigating and adapting to climate change

6. Managing the global economy

7. Managing cyber governance

8. Advancing development

9. Expanding global trade

10. Promoting global health


Biodiversity isn’t mentioned, except as a subcategory under climate change, “Protecting carbon sinks.”

Rather than simply lobbying for biodiversity to be included in this and other such lists, I think it would be more effective for us to engage in a give-and take with CFR and other U.S.-based foreign policy institutes about biodiversity. We need to explain that there are many other reasons for protecting nature other than for carbon sinks, and that many other things drive the destruction of nature other than climate change. And that the global loss of biodiversity is indeed a top-level global challenge.

It helps that other respected organizations have declared this a critical concern. For example, the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge calls “biodiversity loss and ecological collapse” an “existential risk,” defined as something that can “lead to human extinction or collapse of civilization.”

This is probably something to be referred to the proposed Policy and Strategy Subcommittee. I plan to volunteer for that group, and would be willing to invest time on the issue.

Ted Trzyna, President

InterEnvironment Institute

[IUCN Member since 1980]

P.O. Box 99, Claremont, California 91711

IUCN USNC Meeting Minutes June 2018
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