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As the IWC commemorates its 75th anniversary, it is launching a new database capturing all the recommendations made by the Commission and its main sub-groups.

The Database of Recommendations aims to collate and track current and past IWC recommendations, enabling users to assess implementation and effectiveness, prioritise actions, avoid duplication, and identify barriers to success.  Increased transparency and accessibility are other major benefits of the database which is now publicly available, fully searchable and accompanied by a user guide.

The project was instigated by the IWC’s joint Working Group of the Conservation and Scientific Committees, seeking a tool to better coordinate their respective work programmes.  It soon became clear that the database had wider potential value and it now contains legally binding Schedule Amendments, as well as Commission Resolutions, and recommendations from meetings and workshops held by all the major sub-groups of the IWC. All recommendations from the most recent meetings in 2021 back to 2016 are already available.  The enormous effort to add the remaining recommendations made over many years will continue as resources allow.

The data entry process has also led to increased scrutiny of the clarity and quality of recommendations made by the IWC.  Standardised language is now used and all recommendations must be specific and tangible with both a timeframe and implementing organisation identified.  The database also has built-in safeguards covering new input and can categorise the latest recommendations as ‘pending’ until they receive the endorsement of the Commission.

The IWC is one of few inter-governmental organisations with a legacy stretching back 75 years.  Recently, the Commission has sought to increase transparency and outreach, and encourage scrutiny and innovation.  It’s hoped that policy makers, scientists and anyone with an interest in whales will be able to use the new database to better understand and evaluate the work of the organisation: both in the past and perhaps more importantly, as we tackle the changing threats that cetaceans face today and in the future.

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