Annual Review 2019

Putting nature at the heart of decision-making

Le Thi Luan tends to her rice paddy, Vietnam Lisa Murray, UNEP


  • Inger Andersen

    Inger Andersen

    UN Environment Programme

    UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director

    The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is a vital part of UNEP’s efforts to demonstrate leadership for the environment. Our long-standing collaboration with UNEP-WCMC has been key to supporting our work on biodiversity at global and national levels for decades, and 2019 was no exception.

    Whether supporting countries to implement their commitments under various Multilateral Environmental Agreements or providing the information that shapes public and private sector decision-making, UNEP-WCMC sits at the heart of the science-policy interface on biodiversity.

    As we seek to push for an ambitious, inclusive and measurable post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework that will fundamentally re-set our relationship with nature, UNEP-WCMC's support to these processes underway will be critical.

  • Robin Bidwell

    Robin Bidwell


    Chair of Trustees

    In the last year, UNEP-WCMC has strengthened engagement across the regions, including with EU institutions and the Government of China, and worked with over 100 countries and territories.

    These deeper international partnerships, underpinned by the UNEP-WCMC collaboration, expand the reach and range of our work. Whether on nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration, or assessing the impact of trade on species and products, we continue to give decision makers across the world the tools they need to make a positive impact for people and planet. Thank you to the Board of Trustees, our supporters and our staff.

  • Neville Ash

    Neville Ash



    UNEP-WCMC has made great progress in the last year with our partners to advance on the sustainability agenda. Across the 6 key areas of our strategy, there are many examples where our teams at the Centre have delivered huge impact. We have also established a more robust approach to understanding our impact at global, regional and national scales around the world.

    The biodiversity community has been making much of 2020 being a “Super Year for Nature”. Despite – and in many ways also because of the challenges faced by the global coronavirus pandemic, 2020 certainly is a super important year for nature. It is the year and start of the decade in which we need to reshape and rebalance the relationship between people and nature. Building on the Centre’s 40 years of experience, UNEP-WCMC's work will be at the heart of this transformation.

  • Jonny Hughes

    Jonny Hughes


    Chief Executive Officer

    The future of nature hangs in the balance; never in its history has UNEP-WCMC been more essential. We understand the power of collaboration and work with partners across the world to create innovative solutions to environmental challenges. In 2019 we brought together governments, businesses, NGOs and research bodies to tackle some of the biggest drivers of environmental degradation.

    One such partnership – the Trade Hub – began in 2019 and is exploring how certain global trade pathways in agricultural commodities are causing biodiversity loss. The results are already feeding into public policy while equipping companies with the knowledge they need to transition to more sustainable business models.

UNEP-WCMC is a vital part of UNEP’s efforts to demonstrate leadership for the environment.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP
We give businesses and policy leaders the tools they need to make decisions that make a difference.
Robin Bidwell, Chair of Trustees, WCMC
In 2019 we brought together governments, businesses, NGOs and research bodies to tackle the drivers of environmental degradation.
Jonny Hughes, CEO, WCMC
In 2020 and beyond, UNEP-WCMC will be more important than ever in supporting our partners to deliver the new plan for nature.
Neville Ash, Director, UNEP-WCMC

We can make change

Our work

In 2019, as we celebrated our 40th anniversary, we collaborated with partners across the world, leading the transformational change required to address the global nature crisis.

Our main office, Cambridge Stephanie Foote, UNEP-WCMC
Giant anteater, a threatened species in Cerrado, Brazil. Credit: Ondřej Prosický, Adobe Stock
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We highlighted the link between unsustainable trade and loss of nature

Working with 50 partner organisations, we launched the Trade, Development and the Environment Hub with the goal of making trade a sustainable and positive force in the world.

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Turtle. Credit: Drew, Adobe Stock
2 of 6

We moved the world closer to a legal framework to protect the high-seas

The Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction - Deep Seas Project explores options to manage the high seas sustainably following an ecosystem-based approach.

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Beringei Baby Mountain Gorilla. Credit: photocech, Adobe Stock
3 of 6

We provided critical science and knowledge for the 2020 super year for nature, climate, and people

In 2019, we have been working at the science-policy interface to support the development of the next Global Biodiversity Framework.

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Mangrove roots, Caribbean. Credit: damedias, Adobe Stock
4 of 6

We used our expertise to enhance ecosystem restoration for people and nature

In the lead up to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, we are working with various partners to design, implement and monitor nature-based solutions to restore landscapes and seascapes around the world.

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Tokay Gecko. Credit: naturesauraphoto, Adobe Stock
5 of 6

We underpinned species protection from unsustainable trade

Ahead of CITES CoP18, we worked with Parties to prepare proposals for three new species to be added to the CITES Appendices. As a result, trade in these species is now more tightly regulated and closely scrutinised.

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6 of 6

We created a new global language for nature's resources

We developed a classification system for natural capital assets that provide benefits to people and the economy, ultimately helping decision makers understand how environmental degradation can disrupt businesses.

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Countries and territories worked with in 2019
Infographic showing the countries UNEP-WCMC has worked with

The designation employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or any of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Dark blue represents countries and territories UNEP-WCMC has worked with in 2019.



Live projects


Funders and partners


Published papers

Icon 136

Number of staff at UNEP-WCMC

8 of whom started as interns



Paid interns





WCMC Financial overview

Total Income

2018: £11,074,000

2019: £12,731,000

2018 2019

Total Expenditure £11,320,000 £12,508,000
Net movement in funds -£246,000 £223,000
Total assests less liabilities £3,699,000 £3,922,000
Rainforest Richard Whitcombe, Adobe Stock

Moving forward

2020 marks the beginning of a critical decade for the planet. This is partly due to landmark moments early in the decade, including the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming that is anticipated to adopt a new global biodiversity framework, and the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow. There will also be the launch of the UN’s Decade of Action on Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Beyond the landmark moments and initiatives, the 2020s are critical because we now have a clear and robust evidence base showing the urgency of changing course; we must rebalance the relationship between people and nature.

Over the past 40 years, UNEP-WCMC has led the way in bringing the understanding of ecosystem change and its significance to public and private policy making; this is the bedrock of our expert reputation. As we move into 2020 and beyond, we will increase our work with partners to develop and deliver solutions and strengthen accountability. Transparency and responsibility for decisions and their impacts on biodiversity will be essential to making progress towards the future biodiversity targets to be adopted in Kunming.

UNEP-WCMC will continue to work on the cutting edge of science, policy and practice. We will help to develop and urgently implement environmental agreements, including the new Global Biodiversity Framework. We will work across all sectors, from finance to fisheries, to develop the tools and knowledge they need to transform to truly sustainable business models. We will support the implementation of nature-based solutions to help the world mitigate and adapt to climate change and to progress across the Sustainable Development Goals.

This year and in the decade ahead, we will continue to partner with governments, businesses, NGOs and research bodies worldwide to make a positive impact for people and planet.

UNEP-WCMC website
Burchell’s Zebra, Botswana Ondřej Prosický, Adobe Stock