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Barbara Pompili, Minister for the Ecological Transition at the IUCN World Congress in Marseille
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the French government, and Agence Française de Développement enjoy close ties, as exemplified by the successive partnerships the two parties have undertaken since 2005. They will soon sign a new agreement for the 2021-2024 period.

A relationship of trust guided by a shared commitment to the protection of biodiversity: that’s the hallmark of the strong ties that link France and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the leading international organization on biodiversity.

The IUCN World Conservation Congress is being held in Marseille from September 3 to 11, bringing together more than 1,400 governmental and non-governmental members from 140 countries, both online and on-site. The Congress is a driving force on biodiversity issues at the international level.

Further reading: The IUCN World Conservation Congress in 8 Points

It’s thanks to the IUCN that we know whether nature is getting better or worse,” says Naïg Cozannet, who coordinates the biodiversity mainstreaming program at Agence Française de Développement (AFD). “Thanks to its network of scientific experts who meet in commissions, it was IUCN that first provided the international community with tools allowing for consensus on monitoring the degradation of biodiversity. These are the Red List of threatened species, now extended to ecosystems; the Green List of protected areas; and the Standard for Nature-based Solutions. All the parties involved now use those standards.

A lasting partnership

France’s ties with IUCN are longstanding: the organization was in fact founded in Fontainebleau, France, in 1948. “Many French key figures and experts committed to nature conservation have been involved in IUCN activities, and France has always contributed to its development,” says Naïg Cozannet. France is also the country with the second-largest number of IUCN members.

In 2005, the two parties took a major step forward and formalized their relationship by signing a four-year partnership, which has been renewed ever since. Agence Française de Développement became involved in the partnership from 2009. During the 2009–2012 period, the French contribution to IUCN’s activities reached €8 million. It has been growing ever since, having increased to €8.8 million during the 2017–2020 period.
Nature-based solutions

As Senior Adviser in Strategy and Development at IUCN Charles Bonhomme states, “This partnership has grown over time and provides real added value. In particular, there’s strong common interest among the partners on various subjects such as ocean preservation, agro-ecology and the development of nature-based solutions.” France, via AFD and the French members of IUCN, has indeed helped in the development of the Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions. This standard, launched in 2020, is now a worldwide reference.

Crucial meetings for the future of the planet are now just a few weeks away: COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity will be held online in October and then in China in 2022, and COP26 on climate change will be held from October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. As Charles Bonhomme reminds us, “IUCN is helping France make its voice heard in these international bodies, especially through the political and strategic recommendations resulting from the Union’s work during the voting on motions.

New partnership to be signed soon

A new partnership is soon to be concluded for the 2021–2024 period. It will include a contribution from France to IUCN’s activities in the form of a grant to support its “Nature 2030” program, funding for several major thematic programs, and the providing of experts from several ministries and AFD.

These resources will help promote the sustainable management of marine protected areas, adoption of agro-ecological practices into land-restoration actions,  implementation of nature-based solutions, and the launch of the new IUCN Academy project.

At the same time, France, through AFD, is also continuing its direct support for IUCN-led projects. One example is the Pacific Resilience initiative, which is guiding several island states in implementing nature-based solutions for biodiversity and climate change adaptation.

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