Threats to natural ecosystems are closely linked to human development, and the lack, insufficiency or inefficiency of public policies are some of the most important drivers of negative effects on the environment. The contribution of the IUCN’s Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) to conservation topics has been discussed in previous studies; however, to date its implications for conservation in public policies have not been addressed. This perspective discusses how the RLE may support the improvement and development of these policies, specifically through the implications for public policy of each of the criteria that substantiate the threat status of ecosystems. We aim to provide a plausible baseline to the operationalization of RLE in public and conservation policy, facilitating the work of governments, practitioners and decision makers. Finally, we provide recommendations and examples as to how to proceed in creating and modifying different public policy instruments, such as land-use planning, spatial zoning, tax reduction, compensation schemes, climate change adaptation plans, management of introduced species, development offsets and restoration investment. This perspective contributes to implement RLE into public policy and to improve ecosystem conservation by expanding the current scope of RLE into practical and political dimensions through plausible actions, policies and strategies.