Since 1950, humans have changed ecosystems at a faster rate than in any other period in history. Therefore, it is necessary that public policies have a solid foundation to curb or reduce these losses. However, efforts to monitor the status of ecosystems are hindered by the lack of a consistent scientific framework, with transparent criteria to identify which of these ecosystems are more likely to disappear. Upon recognition of this important scientific void, the IV IUCN World Conservation Congress (Barcelona, Spain, 5-14 October 2008) approved a motion to initiate the development of a global standard for assessing ecosystem risk, which could eventually become a new tool in conservation policies.
Thereby, the IUCN laid the foundations for the Red List of Ecosystems (RLE), a key tool, since it allows addressing different aspects of public policy from a global and national perspective, and it aids countries to achieve international conservation goals. The joint application of the RLE with other IUCN knowledge products provides a unique opportunity for conservation planning. The RLE was officially recognized by IUCN in 2014. Up until then, an ecosystem assessment protocol that separated ecosystem risk analysis and the establishment of conservation priorities was not available. Currently, the first continental RLE assessment is being completed, in America, and there several national RLE have been completed, as well as assessments of multiple ecosystems from around the world. The goal is to have a complete assessment of all of the world’s ecosystems by 2025.