Director General

IUCN is looking for a talented CEO who is passionate about nature conservation and the environment and is determined to make a difference. The Director General will manage the Union by articulating its vision, mission and policies and leading the implementation of its programme as approved by its membership. He/she will serve as the principal Ambassador and speaker for the Union on major platforms and will be in charge of enhancing the global visibility and broadening the influence of the Union, while innovatively expanding and diversifying its sources of finance.

 IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic nature based solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and the private sector together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

 We are seeking an experienced international leader with a thorough understanding and ability to engage in the major conservation and environmental issues at the international policy level and the openness and sensitivity to facilitate the work of a culturally diverse membership and network of expert volunteers while leading a decentralized, diverse global organization with more than 1’000 employees. 

The Organization

IUCN - The International Union for Conservation of Nature was founded in 1948 as the world’s first global environmental organization and has today mushroomed into the largest global conservation network. It brings together 90 States, 117 government agencies, 932 NGOs, 41 affiliates, and some 11,000 voluntary scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. Its mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The subsequent work builds upon IUCN’s niche as the world’s authority on biodiversity conservation, nature based solutions and related environmental governance. Within the framework of global conventions, IUCN has helped over 75 countries to prepare and implement national conservation and biodiversity strategies.

 IUCN has approximately 1000 staff, most of whom are located in its 42 Regional and Country Offices while 140 work at its Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. IUCN operates on a current annual budget of approximately CHF100 million funded by membership dues and both restricted and unrestricted contributions from governments, foundations, development banks, and others.  

The Position

  • Appointed by the Council, the Director General is the CEO of the Union and head of the Secretariat. He/she is responsible and accountable to the Council for the effective implementation of the policies of the Union.
  • His/her most important tasks are to promote the mission of IUCN; and to shape and lead the implementation of the Union’s Global Programme as established by the Congress and Council.
  • He/she serves as the principal Ambassador and speaker for the Union on major platforms.
  • The detailed description and specific responsibilities/tasks of the Director General are listed in the Statutes of IUCN. They include management of the executive team, programme development, budgeting and financing, reporting, promotion, external relations and general administration. 

Priorities of the Position

  • Manage and lead the Union by articulating its vision, mission and policies and implementing the quadrennial program approved by Congress.
  • Strengthen and reinforce the regionalized and decentralized nature of the Union, including initiating and implementing major initiatives through the decentralized regional offices.Coordinate the work of the Secretariat with other components of the Union and thus ensure that the Secretariat serves the membership and Commissions as laid out in the “One Programme Charter” of IUCN.
  • Expand and diversify the sources of finance including through new and innovative sources to support the activities of the Union.
  • Strive to enhance the global visibility and broaden the influence of the Union and represent the nature conservation agenda in the global public policy arenas.
  • Effectively manage the Union so as to inspire optimal output from the Staff, both at Headquarters and within the regions.
  • Communicate, coordinate and continuously engage with all parts of the Union, in particular the Members and expert Commissions, to leverage their capacities and deliver targeted Programme results with complete transparency.
  • Understand, and where needed diplomatically mediate, between the diverse interests of NGO and State/government agency members of IUCN to, collectively and collaboratively, further conservation and sustainable development goals.
  • Ensure that IUCN’s program and conservation solutions remain relevant in the context of emerging global issues.

Core Competencies of the Position

Technical competencies, characterized by:
  • Academic degree, preferably post-graduate, and ideally in subject areas related to conservation, environmental protection and/or sustainable development.
  • A thorough and clear understanding of the major conservation and environmental issues and their global management at the international policy level, in particular within the context of the evolving environment/development interface and IUCN’s focus on conservation and nature based solutions.
  • A proven record in the management and implementation of conservation programmes in the developed and/or developing parts of the world and a working knowledge of the science underlying such programmes.
  • A demonstrable ability to engage and operate effectively at the highest policy and political levels.
  • Fluency in English, both spoken and written. A good knowledge of any other international languages would be an asset.
  • A demonstrable ability to enable and facilitate the work of a diverse Membership and network of expert volunteers. 
Managerial, conceptual, organizational competencies, characterized by:
  • An ability to manage, steer, and coordinate complex programmes of a policy and/or scientific nature at the international level across diverse constituencies.
  • The ability to lead, motivate and manage a decentralized organization through a process of distant management - delegation matched with performance monitoring.
  • The capacity to influence through networking and of motivating volunteerism as a fundamental approach to IUCN’s Programme.
  • A significant and proven track record in fundraising from diverse public and private sectors.
  • Demonstrated successful experience in the running and governance of a multinational and multicultural organization.
  • Demonstrate successful experience in engaging with governments at the highest level.
  • A clear understanding of financial and corporate governance aspects especially as they relate to the management of a non profit organization.
  • The ability to set priorities and organizational goals to achieve results and to apply judgment, in respect of people and situations.
  • A familiarity with the culture of civil society as well as experience of interaction with governmental organizations and the private sector.
  • Sensitivity and exposure to dealing with growing conservation and environmental challenges in a changing world, in particular with the centre of gravity of global development shifting South and East.
  • A deep knowledge of global policy processes as well as multilateral institutions and governance especially as they relate to conservation, environment and sustainable development.
Competencies of character and personality, characterized by:
  • Demonstrated commitment to nature conservation and possessing leadership ability.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Proven diplomatic skills coupled with familiarity and sensitivity to different cultures, genders, languages and countries. 
Compensation and Location
  • An attractive package will be offered in order to motivate candidates with superior qualifications.
  • The Union is an equal opportunity employer.
  • The DG will be based in the IUCN Headquarters in Gland (Switzerland).


Interested candidates should send detailed Curriculum Vitae including a description of their main achievements in each of their previous functions. Candidates should also explain their motivations and how they see themselves matching the needs of the Union.
The closing date for receiving the applications is 15 January  2014.
Applications should be sent to:



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