IUCN in Sri Lanka has been conceptualized within the overall context of the Union's mission and the environmental concerns identified in the successive National Environmental Action Plans (NEAP) of the Government of Sri Lanka. In accordance with the Union's global mission, the Sri Lanka Programme facilitates conservation action by offering technical, institutional and policy support to government agencies and NGOs. It also provides opportunities for the practical application of methodologies developed through the Union's scientific network to support conservation initiatives of its members and partners in Sri Lanka . Since its establishment, IUCN Sri Lanka has demonstrated its ability to facilitate and work in partnership with its members to conserve natural resources and to achieve consensus among the various organizations involved.
The in-country operational relationship between the Union and the Government of Sri Lanka commenced in August 1988 with the establishment of the Country Office in Colombo. The presence of IUCN in Sri Lanka was based on a Memorandum of Agreement signed with the then Ministry of Land and Land Development. In 1993, IUCN and the Government of Sri Lanka signed an expanded Memorandum of Agreement, which consolidated its legal status in the country. Since then the activities of IUCN Sri Lanka have expanded and moved into new areas, in partnership with its Government and NGO members and partners.