The fourth IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) Leaders meeting, where the leadership of the IUCN and SSC meet to discuss the functioning, growth and integration of species conservation work, was held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October 6-9, 2019, with the support of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD). This meeting brought together over 350 conservationists from around the world, including ASG co-chairs Prof. Phil Bishop and Dr. Ariadne Angulo, Programme Officer Sally Wren, and Amphibian Red List Authority Global Coordinator Jennifer Luedtke.

Amphibians had a prominent presence at the SSC Leaders meeting as ASG was requested to participate in several sessions. Prof. Bishop presented on ASG’ planning approach in plenary during the first day of the meeting and was congratulated by many fellow specialist group chairs. In addition, an ASG poster that same day received much interest from meeting participants. Ariadne Angulo was invited to represent ASG during a panel discussion on diversity in leadership and membership during a parallel session on the second day, and ASG was also tasked with facilitating an amphibian and reptile breakout session on the third day to discuss priorities and challenges and whether to establish an Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Committee.

The last day of the meeting was especially significant for ASG. Dr. Simon Stuart gave a very heartfelt and moving tribute to Dr. George Rabb, arguably the father of the global amphibian conservation movement and staunch supporter of the ASA, Amphibian Ark, ASG, and all things amphibian. The ASG also received a Chair’s Citation of Excellence at the meeting. ASG received this important commendation in recognition of its outstanding contributions in delivering the Species Strategic Plan during the 2017-2018 period. ASG is a fantastic example of how an IUCN SSC specialist group can build a welcoming global community that serves and delivers science and conservation action. It comprises a wonderfully committed team of experts who are striving to make this world a better place for amphibians. This commendation recognises a truly fantastic group of people and is richly deserved.

Ariadne Angulo also received a very important recognition of her achievements in amphibian conservation during this last day of the meeting. She was one of the recipients of The Harry Messel Award for Conservation Leadership. This award recognizes exemplary service to the IUCN SSC, especially from individuals who have made a specific contribution to species conservation on the ground or through their leadership, as part of the work of an SSC Specialist Group or Task Force. Ariadne combines her commitment to the coordination of global efforts with a passion for developing amphibian conservation in Latin America. Since 1984, when the award was initiated, this is the first time that SSC has bestowed this award in recognition of specific work with amphibian conservation. Moreover, out of 72 IUCN SSC awardees until 2019, only four worked in Latin America and only 16 were women, which makes this recognition timely. Nevertheless, it was not the first time that Dr. Ariadne Angulo, who was born in Peru and raised in Brazil, has been recognized for her work. In 2015, she received an IUCN SSC Chair’s Citation of Excellence in recognition of her tireless, conscientious, and dedicated leadership of amphibian conservation, including through the Amphibian Specialist Group and Amphibian Red List Authority. Among Ariadne’s many contributions to amphibian conservation, she served as Interim Executive Director of ASA from 2017-2018 during Dr. Helen Meredith’s maternity leave – a role she embraced with great tenacity whilst bringing ASG and ASA ever closer together.

Congratulations, ASG and Ariadne! The Amphibian Survival Alliance is grateful for all that you do, and is very proud of you!