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IUCN Green List: What is it? And why does it matter?

Friday, July 09, 2021

Etienne Kuzong, ASI’s Technical Manager and Interim Quality Director reflects on his experience as a reviewer for the IUCN Green List and how the standard effectively tracks, improves and verifies the performance of protected and conserved areas.

What is the IUCN Green List Programme?

The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Programme (IUCN Green List Programme) was developed by the IUCN with the aim to encourage, achieve and promote effective, equitable and successful protected areas in all partner countries and jurisdictions. The IUCN Green List Standard contains a set of 17 criteria alongside a set of components and indicators for successful conservation in protected and conserved areas.

The assurance system developed by IUCN is different from the traditional certification system, where Certification Bodies are used to audit certificate holders. Sites wishing to achieve ‘Green List’ status apply to IUCN where a representative of the Expert Assessment Group for the Green List (EAGL), evaluates the candidate against the standard requirements. EAGLs are a group made up of at least 10 experts with diverse backgrounds and expertise related to protected and conserved areas. The IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas Committee takes the final decision to award status.

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How is ASI involved?

To oversee this process, IUCN partnered with ASI who provides independent assurance and oversight of the IUCN Green List Programme application and procedures. ASI plays a crucial role in ensuring the credibility of the IUCN Green List process. As an independent reviewer of the IUCN Green List Programme, I oversee the entire process within a specific jurisdiction (country or region). My duties include: verification of the appointment and constitution of the EAGLs, training of EAGLs, overseeing the standard adaptation process, evaluating and overseeing the evaluation and ‘Green Listing’ of candidate protected areas.

A key part of ASI’s role is to train and mentor EAGL members, to enhance their capacities in both standard setting and assessment. So far, I have been the reviewer for Kenya, Côte D’Ivoire, Benin, Madagascar, Senegal, Nigeria, and Zambia. I have trained and mentored over 50 EAGL members and provided oversight of two protected areas in Kenya. Through this work, ASI’s independent third-party assurance confirms the competence and consistent application of the IUCN Green List Programme standard and assurance processes.

Why does the IUCN Green List Programme matter?

I believe the IUCN Green List Programme is one of the simple solutions to the climate change challenge, especially in Africa. Studies have shown that about 23% of the World’s tree-based carbon is stored in protected areas in the Tropics and their intact forests landscapes (IFLs). This directly translates into a capacity to absorb about 20% of additional human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs) each year. Any program such as the IUCN Green List Programme that promotes and increases the amount of protected and conserved areas, will directly contribute to this increased capacity to absorb GHGs.

I am extremely happy and motivated by the role of ASI and my contribution as a reviewer in the IUCN Green List process, as I see a direct impact of our work in providing credibility to the programme. Given the clear relationship between effective conservation and reduced GHGs, I am happy that ASI’s work is contributing to addressing the climate change challenge and advancing the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

At ASI, we look forward to working with our clients and partnering with new ones to develop assurance programmes that meet their sustainability goals. Get in touch to discover how we can help.

About IUCN

IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its more than 1,400 Member organisations and the input of more than 18,000 experts. This diversity and vast expertise makes IUCN the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.

About ASI

ASI is the leading global assurance provider for social and environmental standard systems. Our mission is to assure the credibility of voluntary sustainability standards and initiatives and support them to deliver real social and environmental impact through our assurance services.

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