Over 350 leaders in species conservation are promoting a clear and unified message: it is possible to halt species declines, it is possible to achieve species recovery targets, and it is possible to do both of these things within our lifetime.

These ideas form the core of the Abu Dhabi Call for Global Species Conservation Action, a declaration that was developed by the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) during their Leader’s Meeting, held October 6th-9th 2019 in Abu Dhabi. This meeting, co-organised by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), brought together over 350 conservation experts from around the world. The majority of attendees were Chairs or members of the SSC’s over 160 Specialist GroupsDisciplinary Groups, and Task Forces, which focus on assessing the status of the earth’s biodiversity, identifying priority actions, and implementing conservation action or enabling local partners to do so. The IUCN Green List of Species, a Conservation Now Member, is being developed by the SSC Species Conservation Success Task Force and so we were invited to participate in this inspiring meeting.

Over the four days of the meeting, participants engaged in plenary, panel, breakout and networking sessions designed to promote learning from past experiences, share and improve skills, explore how best to measure the effectiveness of SSC actions on biodiversity conservation, and apply the outcomes of that process to improve and guide future work. A common theme that emerged again and again across the 4 days was the desire of SSC members to use their expertise to advocate for species conservation, not simply provide scientific guidance. In that spirit, the meeting concluded with the ratification of the Abu Dhabi Call.


Photo Credit IUCN SSC

In 2020, global targets for biodiversity and sustainable development will be renegotiated. Recognizing that now is a critical time to inform the development of these targets, the Abu Dhabi Call for Global Species Conservation Action appeals to the world’s governments, international agencies and the private sector. The Abu Dhabi Call sets clear targets: to halt species decline and prevent human-driven extinctions by 2030, and to improve the conservation status of threatened species with a view to bringing about widespread recovery by 2050. While these goals may seem ambitious, the SSC Leaders who have dedicated their careers to understanding the challenges and opportunities in conservation agree that they are entirely achievable.

The world needs ambitious and optimistic conservation targets if we are to achieve the bright future for biodiversity which we know is possible. We must all raise our voices together in this crucial time before targets are agreed in 2020. You can help by spreading the word about the Call! Share the press release with your networks and on social media using the hashtag #SpeciesActionNow.

To find out more, get involved and/or share your organisation logo to be associated with the Call, you can contact species@iucn.org.


I am the Co Chair for the IUCN Green Status of Species, which introduces a new method for assessing successful conservation. Historically, conservation success was measured in terms of the outcome we wish to avoid (extinction) rather than the outcome we wish to achieve: the recovery of populations carrying out their ecological roles throughout their indigenous range. The Green Status provides objective criteria to assess progress toward full species recovery. I am based at Oxford University at Washam College and as a Research Associate in the Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science.