Annual Review 2020

Putting nature at the heart of decision-making

Pulsar Imagens, Adobe Stock


  • Inger Andersen

    Inger Andersen

    UN Environment Programme

    UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director

    The UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is vital to UNEP’s work driving positive change for people and planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed huge challenges on us all and is an urgent reminder of the importance of rebalancing the relationship between people and nature.

    Through the Centre’s expertise, information, and analyses, UNEP-WCMC is supporting the science, the policy and the action to tackle the global nature crisis. The Centre seeks to do so by providing the information and tools to help shape policy and enable business and the finance sector to make nature positive transformations. UNEP-WCMC is also at the heart of our work to bring the nature and climate agendas ever closer together. As we strive for system-wide shifts and transformation across each and every sector of society, UNEP-WCMC’s science and insights will be critical.

  • Robin Bidwell

    Robin Bidwell


    Chair of Trustees

    During the course of 2020, WCMC took steps to strengthen its regional engagement and relationships across the world, in support of the collaboration that underpins UNEP-WCMC. This included fostering closer engagement in Asia and with EU institutions.

    Across all six areas of the Centre’s strategy, it’s clear that UNEP-WCMC has continued to support decision makers in both the public and the private sector with the information they need to make positive choices for our planet. From leading cutting-edge analysis of trade across a range of sectors, to enabling national governments to build biodiversity considerations into their decision making, UNEP-WCMC has made huge achievements, in a very challenging year. My thanks go to the WCMC Board of Trustees, to our supporters and to all our staff.

  • Neville Ash

    Neville Ash



    Although 2020 was not the year that we expected, and many events in the international biodiversity community were postponed or repositioned online, our work continued at all scales. Through working in over 130 countries with more than 200 partners, UNEP-WCMC has had great impact during the year on the global nature and sustainability agenda.

    The Centre continued crucial work in support of an ambitious and measurable post-2020 global biodiversity framework. If we are to succeed in addressing biodiversity loss and ensuring its benefits are enjoyed by all, then ambition will need to translate into action to deliver the framework. We are gearing up to support its implementation, including with our partners across the UN system through collective action on biodiversity and nature-based solutions.

  • Jonny Hughes

    Jonny Hughes


    Chief Executive Officer

    Throughout 2020, the team across UNEP-WCMC demonstrated tremendous agility in dealing with the effects of the pandemic, constantly shifting circumstances, and transitioning to working remotely. It is a testament to the team’s hard work and dedication that last year, the Centre produced more high-quality outputs than in any other year in its history.

    Amongst the many achievements of 2020 was the Centre’s contribution to the ground-breaking “Bending the Curve” analysis which set out a path for halting and reversing terrestrial biodiversity loss from land use change. The futures modelling identifies the six key actions required, including ecosystem restoration and food system transformations. Such research, and the underpinning modelling, is one example of how the Centre continues to inform and catalyse effective global action for nature.

As we strive for system-wide shifts and transformation across each and every sector of society, UNEP-WCMC’s science and insights will be critical.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP
WCMC took steps to strengthen its regional engagement and relationships across the world.
Robin Bidwell, Chair of Trustees, WCMC
Last year, the Centre produced more high-quality outputs than in any other year in its history.
Jonny Hughes, WCMC CEO
The Centre continued crucial work towards shaping an ambitious and measurable post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Neville Ash, Director, UNEP-WCMC

We can make change

Our work

In 2020, as we all responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to work with our partners worldwide to bring about the transformative change needed to tackle the global nature crisis and build back better for people and planet.

Wednesday Tea at UNEP-WCMC Photo: UNEP-WCMC
A vista of the German countryside with cropfields and wind turbines.
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We helped businesses and investors avoid impacts on nature

New research and a novel data layer to support business decision making was supported by the Proteus Partnership, which also agreed a new and ambitious five-year strategy to enable and support companies in becoming nature positive.

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A diver swimming on the sea floor.
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We helped restore precious ecosystems in European seas

Ahead of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, we used our expertise to support ecosystem restoration in shallow and deep-water habitats from Norway to Turkey.

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Geneva, Switzerland - a row of flags at entrance of United Nations Offices or Palais des Nations in Ariana Park, on shore of Lake Geneva. Credit: bennymarty, Adobe Stock
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We underpinned plans to monitor progress towards new global ambitions for biodiversity

UNEP-WCMC has provided critical work in support of efforts to deliver an effective monitoring system for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

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Earth from space. The United Kingdom and the North Sea. Credit: Anton Balazh, Adobe Stock
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We highlighted the benefits of joint action for climate and nature

Work by UNEP-WCMC and our partners to map priority areas for biodiversity and carbon drew the climate and nature agendas closer together.

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A close-up of a parrot / macaw. Credit: Martin, Adobe Stock
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We helped ensure international wildlife trade is legal and sustainable

Together with the CITES Secretariat, we made over 4000 species identification resources accessible in new, dynamic forms, helping to regulate international wildlife trade.

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Southern white rhinoceros cow and calf. Credit:, Adobe Stock
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We helped develop a strategy to bend the curve on biodiversity loss

With partners, we developed research identifying the key actions needed to halt and reverse terrestrial biodiversity loss from land use change.

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Icon 134

Countries and territories in which we’ve worked on projects in 2020
Infographic showing the countries UNEP-WCMC has worked with

The boundaries and names shown and the designations used on this map do not imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations.

Dark blue represents countries and territories UNEP-WCMC has worked with in 2020.



Live projects


Funders and partners


Published papers

Icon 157

Number of staff at UNEP-WCMC

11 of whom started as interns



Paid interns





WCMC Financial overview

Total Income

2019: £12,731,000

2020: £15,281,399

2019 2020

Total Expenditure £12,509,086 £15,161,603
Net movement in funds £222,531 £111,796
Total assets less liabilities £3,921,087 £4,040,883
Blue Planet Studio - Adobe Stock

Moving forward

2021, and the decade ahead, will be critical for tackling the global nature crisis and securing a better, healthier and more resilient future for people and planet.

Building back better from the COVID-19 crisis will be a collective challenge. The pandemic has reinforced the need for urgent action to tackle the degradation of nature. As the world invests to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, opportunities need to be realized to deliver transformative change in the relationship between people and nature, for a nature-positive, carbon-neutral, and equitable future.

UNEP-WCMC will deliver on our role to provide trusted knowledge and support its use to improve the resilience of ecological, economic and social systems.

The Centre will also continue to play a leading role in shaping and supporting global environmental agreements. The UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, with the expected adoption of a new global biodiversity framework, the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, and UN Food Systems Summit, will be springboard moments for the future of our planet, and UNEP-WCMC will be helping to shape their outcomes.

In 2021, the Centre will continue to lead and innovate. We will finalise a new and impactful UNEP-WCMC strategy, in line with the UNEP Medium-Term Strategy 2022-2025, and we will continue our work to bring biodiversity data and knowledge together and available to the world. With the climate and nature agendas merging and political support at the highest levels growing, the demand for information on biodiversity is growing. We will address this need through the new Planet + initiative, transforming the way we collect, manage, share, and make available biodiversity data. We will drive progress on conservation ambitions, accelerate action for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, work to ensure an economy that works for nature and people, and strengthen the use of nature-based solutions for sustainable development.

UNEP-WCMC will continue work with partners and leaders across all sectors of society, ensuring that decision-makers have the information they need to make positive choices for nature and people.

UNEP-WCMC website
Toby Matthews, The Ocean Agency