Biodiversity Awareness Week, International Union for Conservation of Nature, IUCN’s John C. Phillips Memorial Medal

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Biodiversity awareness week, plus it’s the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and IUCN’s John C. Phillips Memorial Medal!



This week, a lot of animals are being honored. That makes sense, biodiversity is a key component in helping combat climate change. We’re gonna spend some time throughout the week highlighting the importance of the Okapi, the sloth, reptiles, wombats and snow leopards. Why does biodiversity matter to us? The term biodiversity was first coined in 1985, a contraction of “biological diversity.” In broad terms it means all life on Earth from microbes to rainforests, and how that life interacts with each other. Essentially, it is the fabric that holds the planet – and every life on it – together.

Biodiversity plays a huge role in the integrity of forest, grasslands and marine ecosystems, and provides important adaptation functions such as buffering from climate extremes, regulating hydrological cycles, protecting soils, regulating temperatures in urban areas, reducing food insecurity and providing options for economic diversification, particularly during periods when climate change impacts reduce agricultural yields. All these functions are important, not just for the climate, but for life on Earth.

By conserving nature and restoring ecosystems we reduce vulnerability and increase resilience. Nature conservation and restoration is a major, cost-efficient ally in our fight against climate change.

DEEPER DIVE: Biodiversity, Columbia U., Nature’s Role in Climate Change



The International Union for Conservation of Nature was created in 1948. Headquartered in Gland, Switzerland, the IUCN is a membership union that brings government and civil society organizations together with a global network of experts. It operates in over 160 countries, Its primary goal is to create a just world that values and conserves nature. The IUCN’s mission is to “influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

The IUCN achieves its mission through events, development of conservation tools and publishing of issue briefs. Last week, it held its first ever Leaders Forum, held in the Jeju Province of South Korea. The Climate Daily hopes to bring you more information on the event once IUCN releases it. One example of the Union’s conservation tools includes a database of the planet’s Key Biodiversity Areas. KBAs are among the most diverse places on Earth,  and contribute significantly to the planet’s biodiversity and overall health. IUCN has identified over 16,300 KBAs.

Another is the Contributions for Nature platform, which allows IUCN Members to document where they’re undertaking (or planning to undertake) conservation and restoration actions. It overlays data for biodiversity and for nature-based solutions to climate change. These are just two reasons why the International Union for Conservation of Nature matters to us. Want to become a member? Well you can if you’re a country, a government agency, a subnational government, an organization that integrates politics and economics, are an NGO or an Indigenous Peoples’ Organization.

According to its website, IUCN is now the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network, with over 1,400 Member organizations and 15,000 experts. We regular folks can participate by subscribing to the IUCN newsletter. 

DEEPER DIVE: IUCN, Leaders Forum 2022, KBA, CFN



IUCN has done and is doing some pretty neat stuff.  Some of that “stuff” includes bestowing the John C. Phillips Memorial Medal, awarded to an individual for their outstanding service in international conservation.John Charles Phillips, born in 1876, was an American hunter, zoologist, ornithologist, and environmentalist. He published over two hundred books and articles about animal breeding, sport hunting, ornithology, wildlife conservation, faunal surveys and systematic reviews, and Mendelian genetics.  

He was vitally concerned with international cooperation for the conservation of nature, being closely involved with developing the early wildlife treaties. Phillips died in 1938.  In his memory, his friends established a Memorial Medal and entrusted the awarding of this recognition to IUCN. The Medal has been presented at every General Assembly and Congress since 1963. 

Distinguished recipients of the Award have included HRH The Prince of the Netherlands, Indira Gandhi, HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said of Oman, Professor E. O. Wilson, Dr Luc Hoffmann, Dr José Aristeo Sarukhán  Kermez and Maria Tereza Jorge Pàdua, each of whom has contributed their vision, wisdom and perseverance to furthering the global conservation cause. In 2021, the last year it was conferred, the award was given to Dr Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah, Professor of Botany, at the University of Ghana.

Why does the JCP Memorial Medal matter to us? Being a conservationist, fighting climate change can be politically dangerous, hard and lonely work. Recognizing climate champions helps steel their resolve. More importantly, it helps us lay people know who our defenders are.

DEEPER DIVE: JCP Memorial Medal, Wikipedia