Russell A. Mittermeier and Simon Stuart of Conservation International (CI) have been elected to significant IUCN posts at the World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. IUCN is the world�s oldest and largest global environmental network � a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and non-government member organizations, including CI.
Mittermeier, CI�s president, was re-elected as one of three IUCN councilors representing North America and the Caribbean. Stuart, a senior advisor to the Biodiversity Assessment Unit in CI�s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, became the new chair of the Species Survival Commission (SSC).
As SSC chair, Stuart will oversee the work of the science-based network comprising 7,500 volunteer experts from almost every country dedicated to the vision of �a world that values and conserves present levels of biodiversity.�
Most SSC members are deployed in more than 100 specialist groups and task forces that address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants or animals, or focus on topical issues such as reintroduction of species into former habitats or wildlife health. The SSC provides the data for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and Stuart has been a major figure in compiling the Red List for more than two decades.
CI staffers on the SSC include Mittermeier, who is on the Commission�s steering committee and is the longtime chair of its Primate Specialist Group; Tom Brooks, the CI vice president for conservation priorities and responses who also is on the Commission steering committee; Rod Mast, co-chair of the Sea Turtle Specialist Group; Claude Gascon, co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group, and several others.
�It is a great challenge to chair the Species Survival Commission as we face an extinction crisis that now is being exacerbated by climate change,� Stuart said. �I am extremely grateful for the support of my conservation colleagues, and humbled by the magnitude of the task at hand.�
In other voting, Ashok Khosla of India won election as IUCN president to succeed Valli Moosa of South Africa, who held the post for four years. Khosla defeated CI�s Carlos Manuel Rodriguez and Purificaci� Canals of Spain.
�We now have an amazing leadership team in IUCN � with an outstanding new council, a dynamic and charismatic director-general and a visionary new president. IUCN is now poised to take on an even greater leadership role,� Mittermeier said. �We are especially pleased with the new leadership that Simon Stuart � one of the most experienced conservationists in the world � brings to the SSC. Under his guidance, we will now be able to demonstrate to the world the fundamental importance of species conservation in maintaining critical ecosystem services, alleviating poverty and improving quality of life around the world.�