[Photo: The late John Davidson with Ted Trzyna at a conference in around 2005. John is amused by something Ted is telling the participants]
What is now called the IUCN WCPA Urban Conservation Strategies Specialist Group came out of discussions that started in 2000 among several people long active in IUCN who were concerned about the near absence of urban dimensions on the global conservation agenda. They were, with their IUCN roles:
· John Davidson (1939-2012), former Deputy Chair of the then IUCN Environmental Planning Commission
· Jeff McNeely, former IUCN Chief Scientist
· Adrian Phillips, former WCPA Chair
· Ted Trzyna, former Chair of the then IUCN Commission on Environmental Strategy and Planning
We were soon joined by George Rabb (1930-2017), a former Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, and Joe Edmiston, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, a unit of the California State Government.
2003. The Urban Imperative workshop, Durban. The informal group holds a three-day workshop, The Urban Imperative, at the IUCN World Parks Congress held in Durban, South Africa. The workshop was organized by InterEnvironment Institute, with support from the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
2004. Specialist Group is established with Ted Trzyna as Chair.
2004. Malibu workshop. Holds its first event, a workshop in Malibu, California, to plan its overall program. Hosted by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.
2004. Bangkok IUCN World Conservation Congress. Holds events on coastal cities, cities in Mediterranean-type regions, and the importance of urban places and people for the conservation movement.
2004. IUCN "Cities and Conservation" Resolution passes. Drafted this Resolution, which called for IUCN's quadrennial program to take into account the connections between cities and larger environments. Although the measure was not implemented, seeds were planted.
2004. The Urban Imperative. The proceedings of the Durban workshop are published. In 26 articles, 34 authors from 17 countries look at challenges and opportunities posed for nature conservation by a rapidly urbanizing world.
2006. Urban Nature 2006, Cape Town, South Africa. Cosponsors this workshop as a side-event to the General Assembly of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. Hosted by the South African National Biodiversity Institute.
2006. ICLEI Local Action for Biodiversity initiative, Rome. Helps to organize and participates in a meeting in Rome, Italy, to plan this initiative. Hosted by RomaNatura.
2006. Nairobi workshop. Along with the United Nations Environment Programme and the Kenya Wildlife Service, organizes and contributes to the African Regional Workshop on Cities, Ecosystems, and Biodiversity.
2008. Barcelona IUCN World Conservation Congress. Organizes a workshop on climate change and new conservation alliances in cooperation with InterClimate Network.
2010. Urban Protected Areas Network. Becomes an active partner in the Network, based at the University of Paris West, which conducted social science research on management of four key urban protected areas in Brazil, India, Kenya, and South Africa.
2009. Dark Skies Advisory Group. Creates this group, IUCN's first effort to deal with the effects of light pollution on natural ecosystems.
2010. Growing Together: Thinking and practice of urban nature conservators is issued by the South African National Biodiversity Institute; it was "inspired in part by the specialist group and is seen as a contribution to its work."
2010. World List of Dark-Sky Parks. The Dark Skies Advisory Group starts a world list of protected areas which have specific rules about light pollution.
2010. The biosphere reserve concept and urban areas. Explores the potential of this connection at several international meetings.
2011. "Urban dimensions of conservation: Why IUCN must take them much more seriously." At the request of the IUCN President and Director General, submits detailed recommendations on incorporating urban dimensions into IUCN's work. Action was deferred.
2012. IUCN World Conservation Congress, Jeju, Republic of Korea. Holds a workshop, Urban Dimensions of Nature Conservation: Roles for IUCN. Sponsors a motion on Dark Skies and Nature Conservation; it passes almost unanimously.
2014. Urban Protected Areas: Profiles and best practice guidelines. Drawing on a decade of experience, produces this illustrated volume, number 22 in IUCN's Best Practice Protected Area Guidelines Series.
2014. IUCN World Parks Congress, Sydney, Australia. Organizes several events on urban protected areas.
2015. Natural Neighbors. Becomes a co-sponsor of this project, aimed at creating alliances of conservation agencies, museums, zoos, aquariums, and botanic gardens within metropolitan areas to introduce urban people to their regions' natural and cultural heritage.
2016. French-language edition of Urban Protected Areas is published.
2016. IUCN World Conservation Congress, Hawai'i. An IUCN Resolution, "Incorporating urban dimensions of conservation into the work of IUCN," is approved. It was drafted and sponsored by InterEnvironment Institute; co-sponsors included the Specialist Group. Held a workshop, "How Urban Partnerships Tackle Global Crises," and co-sponsored several other events.
2017. Portuguese-language edition of Urban Protected Areas is published.
2017. Spirit of place as a conservation tool. Work starts on this initiative, which leads to Global Beacons of Hope.
2019. Global Beacons of Hope. This independent project starts with consultations in the US and the UK, and at several international conferences.
2019. Long-distance Trails Advisory Group is created and contributes to the Third Latin American and Caribbean Congress on Protected Areas in Lima, Peru.