EFG, which has been instrumental in transforming the poverty-stricken province of Guizhou into a model of sustainable development and conservation, is at the forefront of advancing the Eco-Civilization strategy that is akin with the mission of IUCN and its focus on ecosystem-based approaches. Besides, Mr. Zhang has previously served as Chairman of UNESCO Executive Board and World Heritage Committee, China’s Vice Minister of Education and has been elected for two consecutive terms as Mayor of Suzhou municipality (pop. 6.7 million), turning it into a model city of economic growth and environmental protection. These roles have given him high-level experience in leading large and complex organisations, consensus building, and promoting science-based approaches and innovative solutions.
Mr. Zhang’s passion for and commitment to nature conservation and sustainable development have been nurtured through his life experiences and further strengthened by the formal education in the leading Chinese universities and Harvard University in the US. His professional and leadership experience in governments at central, provincial and municipal levels, along with inter-government and non-government positions, has given him a deep understanding of how to formulate national/global strategies and policies as well as implement programs and on-ground solutions. A key life experience for Mr. Zhang has been the importance of the processes used for decision making and policy development, particularly when dealing with complex problems and divergent stakeholders. Mr. Zhang has endeavoured to provide leadership based on strategic thinking, patiently engaging with, listening and responding to all components of the Union including the core constituency of IUCN members, while continuously striving for a democratic consensus on difficult issues, and will continue to do so if re-elected.
IUCN faces challenges and opportunities in the coming years, and important decisions will need to be made in light of the changing circumstances. Such diverse experiences will allow Mr. Zhang to provide continuity of leadership at a crucial time in IUCN’s history and global developments in support of biodiversity and nature-based solutions.