Regionalisation and decentralisation of the IUCN Secretariat and Programme has been the subject of discussion and structural reform for almost a decade. The process can be traced directly to relevant IUCN Resolutions.

An important discussion about the decentralisation process of IUCN took place in 1994 during the 19th Session of the IUCN General Assembly in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Resolution 19.1. i) entitled The Strategy of IUCN stated "that the Council advised by the Director General and in consultation with the membership, undertake a critical analysis of the decentralisation process in the Secretariat and Commissions so as to ensure that the pattern serves the members and partners in an optimal way, and formulate proposals for consideration…".

As stated in Resolution 2.5 of the 2000 World Conservation Congress (previously known as General Assembly), regionalisation received further endorsement at the 1st Session of the World Conservation Congress held in Montreal, Canada, 1996.

The 2000 World Conservation Congress, at its 2nd Session in Amman, Jordan, recognised the importance of regionalisation for the effective implementation of IUCN's Programmes and activities, and to respond to the need of the membership in the different regions.

Resolution 2.5, after reaffirming the policy of regionalisation, requested the Director General of IUCN to:

(a) "further encourage regionalisation of the Secretariat's Component Programmes in all the regions where appropriate

(b) support Regional Offices, where appropriate, enabling them to work with members and Commissions to ensure a systematic approach to regionalisation

(c) ensure coherence between IUCN's global and regional programmes, and to facilitate communication and cooperation among regions with respect to this programmes, and

(d) keep the implementation of the regionalisation under review, providing annual reports to Council and IUCN members".

At its meeting in October 2001, the IUCN Council passed Decision C/55/25 welcoming the IUCN's Director General's decision to carry out a review of the regionalisation/decentralisation process in 2002, and requesting a report of the progress at the next meeting of the Council.

The Environmental Law Programme has been an integral part of the regionalisation process. In 1999 it started a 4 years German funded project entitled "A Programmatic Framework for delivering Regionally and Nationally Tailored Environmental Law Programme Services through IUCN Regional and Country Offices" (Regionalisation Project).

The objective of the Regionalisation Project is to strengthen and consolidate IUCN's capacity to deliver the environmental law services at the regional and national level. The services include basic elements of the ELP: technical assistance, training and information.

For the purpose of planning and co-ordination, the project foresees the organisation of appropriate planning and co-ordination meetings. These include regional planning and co-ordination meetings between the ELC and RCO staff, CEL and IUCN members of a specific region to collectively identify regional and national project priorities, design a regional environmental law programme, and discuss the ways in which the latter is to be implemented.

Inter-regional co-ordination between IUCN staff is further achieved by electronic communications links established between the ELC staff and designated RCO staff. Every IUCN Region has appointed an environmental law focal point for this purpose and this assists in co-ordinating efforts to engage all interested staff and volunteers.

Other means of co-ordination are the CEL Steering Committee Meetings, the WCC and other relevant IUCN's and partner organisation's events.

Every year, two regions or sub-regions are selected to develop a strategy and workplan for integrating environmental law into IUCN's regional programmes.

Regions or sub-regions that have been targeted for programme development and pilot project include:

The process for designing a regional or sub-regional environmental law programme is regionally tailored and involves CEL and IUCN members in the region or sub-region who specialise in environmental law.

The modus operandi of each regional or sub-regional programme is different and involves a different mix of input from staff, volunteers, IUCN members and consultants depending upon the existing capacity of the particular region.

Principal author: Alejandro Iza. Last updated: 7 January 2002


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