IUCN Academy: creating a tailored global platform in 1,5 months

Discover how an international NGO created a globally operating academy from scratch with Opigno

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About the client

IUCN is a membership Union where diverse stakeholders, including governments, NGOs, scientists, businesses, local communities, indigenous peoples organizations, and others, forge and implement solutions to reverse habitat loss, restore ecosystems, improve people's well-being, and achieve sustainable development.

Created in 1948, IUCN is now the world's largest and most diverse environmental network, harnessing the knowledge, resources, and reach of more than 1,400 Member organizations and some 15,000 experts. Its broad membership enables IUCN to fill the role of a leading provider, incubator, and trusted repository of conservation data, analysis, best practices, tools, and international standards.

Homepage IUCN

The challenge

Over 60+ years of work, IUCN has developed and accumulated immense expertise in nature conservation practices. In 2021, the Union decided to bring together its broad portfolio of capacity-building programs and create an e-learning platform to educate governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals globally on sustainable and environmentally conscious practices.

The technical aspect

IUCN did not have an e-learning platform before, so they needed to build a solution from scratch that could easily integrate with their existing Drupal-based IT systems.

And as an international organization, they were planning to extend their reach globally, meaning the platform should have been secure, scalable, reliable, and robust.

Knowledge and course management

The subject of nature conservation is complex, and IUCN's knowledge base is very deep, covering many different spheres and disciplines. That posed several issues:

  1. They needed to create an easily-managed training catalog that could be kept up-to-date with their research.
  2. IUCN needed to streamline and standardize creating learning content, designing courses, and organizing synchronous learning with multilingual participants scattered around six continents.
  3. The Academy planned to deliver courses in all formats: in-person, online live, and online self-paced. Hence, the platform needed to allow blended learning, including live online sessions led by a diversity of experts: IUCN staff experts, professors from leading universities, and professionals in related fields and organizations.

Adaptive learning

IUCN Academy also had to balance the diverse needs of the participants: some participants want to be introduced to the work of IUCN, while others, more seasoned conservationists, are interested in specialized courses.

As a response to those different needs, IUCN Academy avails broad introductory courses open to everyone, as well as more technical specialized courses with tools and resources for conservation professionals.

They decided to use Opigno LMS as an open-source solution based on Drupal and add some customizations.

IUCN Academy - Homepage

Our solution

Opigno LMS was an excellent option for the massive international NGO that had never used an e-learning solution before.



It is a comprehensive e-learning platform designed to accommodate hundreds of concurrent users, covering almost all IUCN's use scenarios.

Based on Drupal

Based on Drupal

Just like IUCN's existing IT systems, Opigno LMS is Drupal-based. That ensured stack compatibility and exceptionally effortless integration.



As an open-source solution from a company specializing in cybersecurity services, Opigno LMS also met IUCN's high data safety requirements.

Out-of-the-box solution

Our team deployed and integrated the default Opigno LMS into the client's system and adapted the interface to their brand book. With our out-of-the-box solution, IUCN was able to resolve most of its challenges:

  • It is a fully-fledged learning management system, so they were able to launch a full-scale Academy from the get-go. Now IUCN Academy can create, upload, and adapt courses and manage training catalogs, users, and their progress on one platform.
  • It supports synchronous and asynchronous learning, enabling the Academy to cater to different learners and provide both instructor-led and self-paced training courses.
  • It is scalable, customizable, and can be integrated with third-party systems. That allows IUCN Academy to grow its outreach, add new features, and connect other tools to expand the Academy's capabilities.

Tailored implementations

To tailor Opigno LMS to the needs of IUCN Academy, we also designed some additional features that the client implemented by themselves.

Integration with Zoom

To streamline webinar management, we designed an integration with Zoom with the ability to schedule webinars within the course and record them automatically for future use.

Custom user roles

As several categories of people are involved in different phases of the course development, such as course authors, reviewers, course managers, administrators, and participants, IUCN Academy needed clear and flexible user roles, which we devised for them.

Training catalog

We customized the catalog design and added a color-coded system of knowledge base organization — each course was marked with a predetermined color according to its category.


"The Opigno platform has been instrumental in simplifying the management of the learning journey, from enrolment to post-course follow-up. We have been able to create rich learning journeys, and Opigno's various settings have allowed us to tailor these courses to program and learner's needs. Most importantly, the learner gets a clear overview of their learning journey and can access each learning component from the platform without any external guidance required.

Very useful has been the setting to make a course public, semi-public, or private, which helped us to get the right people in the right course. With the integration of H5P, we have been able to create both introduction and executive courses. The Forum has been a valuable platform for running discussions among participants and course managers."

Marijn Sissingh,
Programme Officer, IUCN Academy



weeks project


Courses created


International users

  • In 6,5 weeks, IUCN Academy had a full-scale multilingual learning platform with a built-in authoring tool and a catalog of courses. Now their training process is streamlined, and the learning curve for users is minimal.
  • Thanks to the platform support of adaptive and blended learning, IUCN Academy can build its capacity across different categories of learners.
  • The Academy complies with privacy and security standards, which is crucial for such an organization and its government and business partners.
  • It is integrated with Zoom so that IUCN Academy can manage webinars within the platform.
  • In one year:

    IUCN Academy has created over a dozen public, semi-private, and private courses, running and in the process of being uploaded.

    More than 3000 accounts have been created since the launch of the learning platform, with participants from all six continents and more than 50 nationalities joining in their continuing education courses.

    Over 1250 individuals participated in IUCN Academy courses.

  • The Opigno LMS proved to be a reliable and efficient solution, so IUCN also used the platform to train internal staff — 1000+ people globally.

training presentation