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Director General

Gland (Switzerland)
Posted 5 years ago



IUCN – The International Union for Conservation of Nature ( was founded in 1948 as the world’s first global environmental organization and has today grown into the largest global conservation network. It brings together 87 States, 127 government agencies, 1102 NGOs, 19 indigenous people organizations and 44 affiliates, and, through six global Commissions, some 15,000 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. IUCN’s work builds upon the organization’s niche as the world’s leading 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 900 staff, most of whom are located in its 42 Regional and Country Offices while 170 work at its Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. IUCN operates on a current annual budget of approximately CHF125 million funded by membership dues, projects and unrestricted contributions from governments, foundations, development banks, and others. The Director General will be based in IUCN HQ in Gland, Switzerland and will oversee the work of the Union as a whole.


Director General

Appointed by the Council, the Director General is the CEO of the Union and Head of the Secretariat. S/he is responsible and accountable to the Council, and the President between meetings of the Council, for the effective implementation of the policies and programmes of the Union. His/her most important tasks are to promote the mission of IUCN and link this mission to the financial strategies that sustain the organization. S/he will shape and lead the implementation of the Union’s Global Programme as established by the Congress and Council. With the President, s/he serves as an Ambassador and spokesperson for the Union on major platforms, promoting the mission of IUCN.


Priorities of the Position:

  • Manage and lead the Union by articulating its vision, mission and policies and implementing the Union’s Global Programme.
  • Work with Council, Regional Councilors and Commission Chairs to implement that Programme.
  • Support the “One Programme Charter” which seeks to ensure that the different parts of IUCN: Members, as represented by National and Regional Committees, Commissions and facilitated by the Secretariat, work together to develop, implement and advance IUCN’s Programme of work.
  • Lead, manage and motivate staff both at headquarters and within the IUCN regions, including initiating and implementing major initiatives through the decentralized regional offices.
  • Promote partnerships with relevant private, public, development and non- governmental sectors to enhance the reach and impact of the Union’s Global Programme.
  • Ensure financial sustainability by expanding and diversifying the sources of finance including through Framework Donors and by mobilizing new and innovative sources of revenue and funding to support the activities of the Union.
  • Strive to enhance the global visibility and broaden the influence of the Union and represent and promote the nature conservation and ecologically sustainable development agenda in global public policy arenas.
  • Communicate, coordinate and continuously engage with all parts of the Union, in particular with the Members and expert Commissions, to leverage their capacities and deliver targeted Programme results.
  • Understand, and where needed, mediate between the diverse interests of NGO and State/government agency members of IUCN to further nature conservation and ecologically sustainable development goals, collectively and collaboratively.
  • Ensure that IUCN’s programme and conservation solutions remain relevant in the context of emerging global issues.


Candidate Profile

We are looking for goal-oriented and creative team players with a graduate degree ideally in subject areas related to conservation, environmental protection and/or sustainable development. He or she must have a minimum of 20 years of relevant experience to undertake the role with a proven track record of leadership in international organizations, international NGOs, knowledge networks, civil service institutions and similar entities.


Candidates should also possess:

  • Managerial, conceptual, organizational competencies, characterized by:
    • A proven record of leading and managing, at high / top administrator level, large multinational and multicultural institutions / organizations with widely recognized influence in the world.
    • An ability to manage, steer, and coordinate complex programmes of a policy and/or conservation nature at the international level across diverse constituencies.
    • A strong record of accomplishment in building consensus among stakeholders with varied or diverging points of view.
    • Demonstrate successful experience in engaging with governments at the highest level.
    • A demonstrated experience with managing nature conservation and ecologically sustainable development projects at different scales, including their financial and control management.
    • An ability to lead, motivate and manage a decentralized organization through a process of distance management – delegation matched with performance monitoring.
    • Demonstrated successful experience in the running and governance of a multinational and multicultural organization. Experience with conceptualizing and managing strategic change to deliver effective results.
    • An ability to align the interest and expertise of Members in the strategic design and implementation of the Union’s Global Programme.
    • A good understanding and appreciation of the value of the IUCN Commissions and the commitment to fully engage and support these volunteer networks in design and delivery of the Union’s Programme.
    • A significant and proven track record in fundraising from diverse public and private sector organizations.
    • A clear understanding of financial and corporate governance aspects especially as they relate to the management of a non-profit organization.
    • Demonstrated experience in developing and implementing financing strategies aligned with the IUCN Programme.
    • 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 center 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 ecologically sustainable development.
    • Excellent leadership, written and verbal communication and interpersonal skills.
    • Proven diplomatic skills coupled with familiarity and sensitivity to different cultures, genders, languages and countries and ability to convince, negotiate and build consensus and foster teamwork.
  • A thorough and clear understanding of the major conservation, environmental and sustainable development issues 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/sustainable development programmes in both the developed and developing parts of the world, and the ability to make short- term operational changes and long-term structural changes to strengthen the management and financial sustainability of the organization;
  • A working knowledge of the science, law, policy and ethics underlying the Union’s conservation programmes;
  • A demonstrable ability to engage and operate effectively at the highest policy and political levels as well as mobilization of a large Union and utilization of high-level networks and members;
  • Strong communication skills to reach out to the broader conservation and development communities, and to engage stakeholders across the Union;
  • Fluency in English, both spoken and written. A good knowledge of Spanish and/or French (other IUCN official languages), would be an asset;
  • A demonstrable ability to enable, engage and facilitate the work of a diverse Membership and networks of expert Commission volunteers.


An attractive package will be offered in order to motivate candidates with superior qualifications. IUCN is an equal opportunity employer. The Director General will be based at the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland.


Applicants should send their an up-to-date CV and a cover letter illustrating their suitability for the above position against the listed qualifications, competencies, and skills with copies of the highest diploma/degree, training certificates related to the position, and names and email addresses of 3 professional referees to Ms. Auree de Carbon by email at: no later than December 17, 2019 at 18.00 CET. Please indicate in the ‘Subject’ of the email the title ‘application for the post of ‘Director General’.


Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.



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