Our strategy focuses on developing and implementing a unique tool known as conservation agreements. These special agreements are long-term conditional interventions that produce lasting solutions for biodiversity conservation and for people through building financial and governance sustainability with communities and governments.
The key to successfully meeting the conservation and development objectives of a conservation agreement is to ensure that delivery of benefits is linked to verified execution of conservation actions. Conservation agreements include comprehensive monitoring programs that assess compliance with agreement commitments, and stipulate implications in the event of non-compliance. To support adaptive management and ensure concrete results, monitoring programs also measure achievement of conservation outcomes, community support and progress in socioeconomic development.
Conservation agreements contribute to building social structures and empowering people to improve their stewardship of natural resources while also helping them to pursue sound development options through:Mechanisms to ensure financial sustainability
- Endowments with the support of the international cooperation
- Trusts with the collaboration of private sector
- Payments through policy mechanisms
- Local enterprise development
Mechanisms to strengthen local capacity
- Supporting the building and strengthening of local organizations
- Improving transparency in decisionmaking
- Enhancing participation of vulnerable and neglected portions of societies
- Allowing for fair and equitable distribution of benefits
- Supporting processes where management rights are clarified, secured and enforced
Negotiated through voluntary participatory processes, conservation agreements empower private and communal landowners to participate in conservation by identifying the necessary offset levels required to enable them to provide conservation results.
Incentives have typically revolved around social services, namely income generation, education, improved agricultural production, health and revival or maintenance of cultural traditions. Changes in income, education, agricultural productivity, governance, forest cover, species presence and other important social and biodiversity indicators are tracked in all conservation agreements implemented.
Another important element of our strategy centers on learning from the breadth of experiences in agreements around the world. Each year, the Conservation Stewards program convenes a meeting in a site close to one of our projects, and invites agreement implementers from around the world.
Recently at the 4th annual learning network meeting, 55 participants from 12 countries gathered in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala to exchange information, discuss ideas, receive training from an expert on a certain theme (ie negotiation or climate change) and visit a local community to see the agreement firsthand (read the full story: Learning Together). By learning from each other, participants take home knowledge and inspiration to improve their agreements, and their rich discussions are captured in the Conservation Agreement model, currently being updated to reflect input from recent meetings.