Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

Protecting biodiversity by working with people

© CI/Jack Tordoff


The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) enables nongovernmental and private sector organizations to conserve vital ecosystems in the world’s biodiversity hotspots.​

CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the government of Japan, the​​ MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

By supporting the development of conservation strategies driven by local input, and providing grants to civil society — nongovernmental, private sector and academic organizations — to implement those strategies, CEPF seeks to protect biodiversity, build local conservation leadership and nurture sustainable development. This path enables conservation and communities to flourish in tandem.

For more information, visit CEPF’s website.

Our plan

CEPF grants:

  • Target biodiversity hotspots in developing and transitional countries.
  • Are guided by regional investment strategies — known as “ecosystem profiles” — developed with dozens of local stakeholders.
  • Go directly to civil society groups to build this vital constituency for conservation alongside governmental partners. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to implement the conservation strategy developed in each ecosystem profile.
  • Help governments meet targets related to the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity, Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Create working alliances among diverse groups, combining unique capacities and eliminating duplication of efforts.
  • Achieve results through an ever-expanding network of partners working together toward shared goals. For more information, please visit​​.


© Benjamin Drummond

By the numbers

Since CEPF's inception in 2000:

More than $232 million in grants has been given to more than 2,300 civil society organizations and individuals in more than 93 countries and territories around the globe, leveraging more than $371 million in additional funds from other donors.

In addition to establishing or expanding more than 14 million hectares of critical ecosystems, CEPF grantees have improved the management of more than 45 million hectares of Key Biodiversity Areas and more than 8 million hectares of production landscapes — areas used for crops or other products.


The unique difference being made by CEPF is being able to really get financial resources to the grassroots organizations that are working in the biodiversity hotspots.

Jennifer Morris, Conservation International President


Through financial support and organizational strengthening, CEPF empowers civil society organizations in the world’s biodiversity hotspots to deliver innovative, enduring solutions that conserve biodiversity and help communities thrive.


Featured publications


Our Solutions


A local boy travels across the Sanetti Plateau, in the Bale Mountains of Ethiopia, on horseback.
© Robin Moore/iLCP

Ecosystem Profiling

Before investing in a region’s vital ecosystems, CEPF involves anywhere between 100 and 500 of the hotspot's experts and stakeholders — botanists, zoologists, local organizations, local government officials and sustainable development specialists among them. These stakeholders are interviewed, consulted and brought together to discuss conservation in the region. With the information they provide, an “ecosystem profile” is developed. The document gives a clear picture of the current state of the hotspot and the best way forward to protecting its vulnerable biodiversity while improving the livelihoods and well-being of local communities. The profiling process also provides a foundation for collaboration among NGOs, researchers and government, and offers other donors a roadmap for investing in the most urgent conservation priorities and complementing ongoing efforts.

Sunrise on the Mekong
© Akuppa John Wigham

Healthy Fish Habitat Secures Food and Income

Health and livelihoods in the Sekong River Basin in Laos are threatened by increased demand for fish, forest products and electricity. With support from CEPF and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Laos communities are co-managing fisheries and protecting the freshwater ecosystems they rely on.

Group of people sitting in front of a window on Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone
© CI/photo by Dan Rothberg

Tiwai Island

To guard against further environmental damage and help nearby communities recover from more than a decade of war, CEPF provided support to the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) to restore Sierra Leone’s Tiwai Island, whose concentration and variety of primates is among the highest in the world. In collaboration with local communities, EFA constructed facilities for scientific research and a visitor center, merging protected area management and community development needs.