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from the desk of dan ashe

The IUCN Presidency: Because it Matters

By Dan Ashe
min read

This past week, we have all been witness to the glorious mess known as “democracy.” Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, democracy is like two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch; the worst form of government, except for all the others. Yes, it’s often messy, particularly if you’re the lamb. Voting is the privilege to express ourselves on things that matter, and Dr. Martin Luther King told us that:

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

In January, many of us will have the privilege to speak about such a thing—the Presidency of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

At the moment when humanity is fueling a sixth mass extinction, visionary and authentic leadership of organizations like IUCN has never been more important. As the world emerges from a global pandemic and grapples with the forces driving disease zoonosis—including ecological destruction and disruption, and unlawful, unregulated and under-regulated trade and consumption of wild animals—we will need highly functional international institutions with expertise in wildlife conservation, trade and trafficking, husbandry, and health. We will need an engaged and inspired IUCN.

This January, three exemplary leaders are candidates for IUCN President.

Malik Amin Aslam Khan
IUCN Global Vice President
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change

Razan Al Mubarak
Founding Managing Director of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund
Managing Director of Emirates Nature-WWF
Managing Director fo the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi

Dr. John G. Robinson
Joan L. Tweedy Chair in Conservation Strategy
Wildlife Conservation Society

Each of them has responded to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ request to answer several questions, so that those among our community who are voting IUCN members can gain some familiarity, and prepare to express themselves on this thing that matters. For non members, I hope you will take a moment to read—they each offer an interesting perspective.

And AZA will be reflecting on these candidates, and may, for the first time in our history, make an endorsement. Because it matters who will become the next President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


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