The IUCN-SSC GOSG was established in March 2013 in recognition of widespread threats to giraffe and okapi, and to address the lack of understanding of the species and their conservation needs. The GOSG is comprised of a group of technical experts from around the world ranging from field biologists and zoologists to veterinarians, geneticists and social scientists with interest and expertise in the conservation of the two giraffid species.

As well as being a scientific advisory body to the IUCN, the GOSG aims to increase understanding of giraffe and okapi, the threats they face, and how such threats can be mitigated in order to facilitate their long term conservation. The group also aims to catalyse research into giraffe and okapi conservation.