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The IWC’s core funding is from member government contributions. Voluntary contributions are also received from governments, non-governmental organisations and industry to support specific research, conservation, welfare and aboriginal subsistence whaling programmes.

Core Funding from Member Government contributions

Annual financial contributions are calculated for all IWC member governments.  The size of contribution varies between governments depending on three factors:

  • the size of their delegation at the most recent biennial Commission meeting;
  • any whaling activity that they may have undertaken;
  • the government's capacity to pay.

Click here to read more on how the financial contributions are calculated and see the amounts owed by each country for 2020 and 2021 and 2022.

Core Funding is divided into three key areas: a General Fund, a Meeting Fund and a Scientific Committee Research Fund.  (Other committees of the IWC do not receive a core budget and generally fund their work programmes with voluntary contributions).

  • General Fund: the primary function of this fund is to maintain the Secretariat of the IWC.
  • Meeting Fund: this fund supports the biennial meetings of the Commission and the annual meetings of the IWC’s Scientific Committee. ‘Reference venues’ are used to benchmark the cost of these meetings.  Governments offering to host meetings are asked to pay any shortfall between the cost of their venue and the cost of the reference venue.
  • Research Fund: the Scientific Committee of the IWC is responsible for allocating these funds to address the scientific research priorities of the Commission.  Voluntary contributions are also occasionally made to this fund in support of particular projects.

Voluntary Funding and Voluntary Contributions

If you are interested in a particular area of research or conservation and would like to know more about opportunities to be involved and provide funding, please contact secretariat@iwc.int

In addition to core funding, the IWC receives voluntary contributions from a wide variety of organisations. Donations are usually made in support of a particular programme of work: some to formally established funds and some to assist with a particular workshop or piece of research.  

Guidelines on Acceptance of Funds have been established to ensure funds are only accepted from appropriate sources, and will advance work that is consistent with IWC objectives. A Code of Ethical Fundraising was also endorsed by the Commission in 2018.  

There are currently five formal voluntary funds:

  • the Small Cetaceans Voluntary Fund, which invites proposals for dolphin and porpoise projects from scientists working on conservation of some of the most endangered mammals in the world;
  • the Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Fund, which assists aboriginal hunters  to achieve compliance with measures identified by the Commission.
  • the Voluntary Conservation Fund, prioritising and supporting a wide range of conservation initiatives to support the implementation of the Conservation Committee Strategic Plan including work on bycatch, whale watching and ship strikes.
  • the Voluntary Assistance Fund, aiming to strengthen the capacity of governments of limited means to participate in the work of the IWC;
  • The Southern Ocean Research Partnership, an integrated, collaborative consortium for non-lethal whale research in the Southern Ocean.

In addition to contributions to these funds, work programmes recently receiving ad hoc donations include the Whale Entanglement Response Training Programme, euthanasia of stranded whales,  and a review of IWC governance.  These miscellaneous contributions are handled by an ‘Other Work’ Fund.

2020 Voluntary Contributions are as follows:

Voluntary Contribution Allocation by Fund


Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling Fund


Other Work Fund


Voluntary Assistance Fund (for Governments of Limited Means)


Voluntary Conservation Fund


Research Fund


Southern Ocean Research Partnership




Financial Structures and Procedures

The IWC Financial Year runs from 1st January to 31st December. 

All financial processes operate according to the Financial Regulations and are managed by the Finance and Administration Committee, supported by its subsidiary body, the Budgetary Sub-committee.  These two groups meet every two years before the Commission Plenary, to develop proposals for both the amount to be paid by member governments as core contributions, and the allocation of these core funds.  The Commission Plenary must then either endorse these proposals or agree alternatives.

Any significant financial issues arising during the two-year intersessional period can be referred to the IWC Bureau, an administrative body comprising seven IWC members, including the Chair of the Finance and Administration Committee.  The Bureau may offer advice or refer major issues, including any issues of policy, to the Commission as a whole for discussion or decision.

Strengthening IWC Financing

In 2010, the IWC created the Intersessional Correspondence Group on Strengthening IWC Financing to examine ways to integrate conservation funding into the overall budget.  The group now takes a broader, strategic and long-term view of IWC’s financial environment and has introduced a number of improvements and initiatives including on financial transparency, governance and external collaboration.

Current Financial Climate

The Commission as a whole is currently working through the Bureau and the Finance and Administration Committee to develop long-term solutions to today’s budgetary challenges.  The focus of this work is agreeing how best  to reconcile the cost of an ever-expanding work programme with a  budget that has been constrained by a difficult and unpredictable  global financial climate, and limited increases in member contributions.

The Budgetary Sub-committee is currently engaged in work to improve the budgetary process and long-term financial management at the IWC, and will present proposals to the Commission at its next meeting.

Publication of IWC Accounts

The Commission’s Accounts are publicly available, and receive an annual audit by an independent auditor. 

  • Click here to read the latest (2021) accounts.
  • Click here to read the accounts for 2020 and 2019