, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 431–435 | Cite as

Defining Flagship Uses is Critical for Flagship Selection: A Critique of the IUCN Climate Change Flagship Fleet

  • Maan Barua
  • Meredith Root-Bernstein
  • Richard J. Ladle
  • Paul Jepson


At the Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) proposed ten additional species to “share the polar bear’s burden” and “illustrate” global effects of climate change (IUCN 2009). Images of polar bears in melting ice have become synonymous with environmentalist climate campaigns (Stirling and Derocher 2007). The IUCN proposal adopts the logic that if one flagship species for global climate change can apparently influence public opinion, a whole fleet of flagships would have an even greater effect. The new IUCN climate change flagship fleet includes staghorn corals, the ringed seal, the leatherback turtle, the emperor penguin, the quiver tree, clownfish, the arctic fox, salmon, the koala, and the beluga whale (IUCN 2009).

The perceived value of flagship species, or “popular charismatic species that serve as symbols and rallying points to stimulate conservation awareness and action” (Heywood 1995), is...


Polar Bear Conservation Goal Beluga Whale Emperor Penguin Flagship Species 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to the members of the IUCN climate change flagship fleet group for their cooperation. M.B.’s work was enabled by the University of Oxford Clarendon Fund, Felix and Wingate Scholarships. M.R.-B. was supported by a graduate fellowship from CONICYT (No. 63105446).


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maan Barua
    • 1
  • Meredith Root-Bernstein
    • 2
  • Richard J. Ladle
    • 3
    • 1
  • Paul Jepson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Department of Ecology, CASEBPontificia Universidad Católica de ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Faculty of Science and HealthFederal University of AlagoasAlagoasBrazil

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