Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund

Protecting biodiversity by working with people


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

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

By supporting the development of conservation strategies driven by local communities and providing grants to civil society — non-governmental, private sector and academic organizations among others — 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, primarily in developing 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 UN’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 the duplication of efforts.
  • Achieve results through an ever-expanding network of partners working together toward shared goals. For more information, please visit

Here's how CEPF grantees around the planet are helping to protect Earth's most threatened biodiversity and ecosystems:

Here's how CEPF grantees around the planet are helping to protect Earth's most threatened biodiversity and ecosystems.


By the numbers

Since CEPF's inception in 2000:

More than $289 million in grants have been given to more than 2,700 civil society organizations and individuals in more than 109 countries and territories around the globe — leveraging more than $414 million in additional funds from other donors.

In addition to establishing or expanding protections for more than 16 million hectares (40 million acres) of critical ecosystems, CEPF grantees have improved the management of more than 54 million hectares (134 million acres) of Key Biodiversity Areas — simply put, the most important places for life on Earth — and more than 12 million hectares (29 million acres) of land used for crops or other agricultural products.


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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 from 100 to 500 of the hotspot's experts and stakeholders — including botanists, zoologists, local organizations, local government officials and sustainable development specialists. 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 profile provides a clear picture of the current state of the hotspot and the best way forward for 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.