� The German development bank KfW and non-profit organization Conservation International (CI) agreed today to protect global biological diversity and through these efforts contribute to improving social and economic conditions in some of the world�s most threatened ecological regions.
At a special ceremony attended by officials from both organizations KfW and CI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the agreement to �maximize their effectiveness in the establishment and management of conserving biological diversity and in fulfilling their respective missions.�
�Conserving the Earth�s rich biodiversity is fundamental to achieving sustainable development and helping reduce poverty. We applaud the vision and commitment of KfW to partner with us to protect natural landscapes that provide ecosystems services that are so important for economic development and human well-being,� said Gustavo Fonseca, executive vice president with Conservation International. �This step by KfW is further demonstration that the Government of Germany is a global leader in terms of environmental protection, including biodiversity conservation, climate change, and sustainable use of natural resources.�
�Both organizations have found each other to be fitting complements in terms of their expertise and support capacity. In that sense, we can effectively contribute to sustainable conservation that is beneficial to the people. With this synergy potential at hand, one plus one add up to significantly more than merely two,� said Wolfgang Kroh, member of the board of managing directors of KfW.
Natural landscapes and biodiversity provide many ecosystem services such as cleansing air and water, food and other natural resources, soil regeneration and pollination, all of which are essential for healthy populations and productive economies.
Joint initiatives planned for the MOU will build on the strong collaboration that already exists in the Caucasus. A Caucasus Protected Areas Fund was launched in March 2006 with joint funding from KfW, CI, and other partners. The fund was designed to provide much needed long-term financial sustainability for protected areas in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Moreover CI and KfW promote conservation initiatives in Madagascar and Guyana.
The Caucasus region's protected areas have the greatest biological diversity of any temperate forest region in the world, with more than 6,500 species of vascular plants. Because these important protected areas face a critical funding shortage, KfW, CI, and other partners will provide up to 50 percent of the basic annual operating costs of protected areas that have been identified as having the highest biodiversity.
The Government of Germany pledged $6.12 million toward the Caucasus Protected Areas Fund endowment through the KfW Development Bank (KfW), while CI's Global Conservation Fund � which finances the creation, expansion, and long-term management of protected areas � pledged a $3 million contribution to the endowment of the trust fund. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund � a joint initiative of CI, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation, and the World Bank � also pledged $300,000 to the fund beyond its already significant investments in the region.
Future initiatives under the MOU will focus on conservation finance, ecologically sustainable management of natural landscapes, community-based conservation approaches, and other issues as determined by the Coordination Committee, which will consist of representatives from KfW and CI. Among the proposed countries and regions to receive support are Madagascar, Southern and Central Africa, South America's Andean nations, and Amazonia.
KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW development bank) finances investments and accompanying consulting services in developing countries. It carries out its work on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). KfW Entwicklungsbank is committed to the primary goal of German development cooperation, namely to sustainably improve the economic and social conditions of the people in developing countries. Through its Financial Cooperation (FC) it contributes to reducing poverty, protecting natural resources, and securing peace worldwide.
CI�s strategic focus is on biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas. The Earth�s 34 biodiversity hotspots hold especially high numbers of species found nowhere else, with 75 percent of the planet�s most threatened mammals, birds, and amphibians within habitat covering just 2.3 percent of the Earth�s surface. High-biodiversity wilderness areas are vast regions of relatively undisturbed land that are home to high numbers of species found nowhere else. Each area still claims 70 percent of original vegetation and has very low human population density. With headquarters in Washington, DC, CI works through partnerships in more than 40 countries across four continents to conserve global biodiversity. CI determines conservation priorities through scientific research and engages local communities with an emphasis on human welfare.