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U.S. Government Policy

 

Conservation International works to advance policies within the United States that support environmental protection efforts around the world. We advise U.S. legislative bodies to build bipartisan support for international conservation. Through legislation and congressional appropriations, we help advance conservation priorities — including via natural climate solutions and carbon markets.

 

Natural Climate Solutions

© Lynn Donaldson

Natural climate solutions could provide about a third of the climate mitigation necessary to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement. The latest scientific consensus finds that three actions — reducing the destruction of forests and other ecosystems, restoring them, and improving the management of working lands, such as farms — are among the top five most effective (and cost-effective) strategies for mitigating carbon emissions by 2030. Natural climate solutions are also powerfully aligned with many of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, such as eliminating hunger and providing access to clean water.

Conservation International’s U.S. Policy Team advises on and advocates for federal legislation that supports natural climate solutions. We focus on bipartisan bills that bring governments and the private sector together to solve global conservation challenges.

 

Conservation finance and carbon markets

The financial commitments needed to fight climate change are too large for governments alone. Finance mechanisms, such as carbon markets, provide a framework for the private sector to invest in that is reliable, effective and efficient.

Some carbon markets are mandatory for emitters, such as those in California and the newly created system in Washington State. However, many carbon markets are voluntary.

Conservation International supports the U.S. government providing technical assistance to help landowners — including Indigenous communities, farmers and ranchers — navigate the complex process of qualifying for voluntary carbon offset programs. This helps incentivize important natural carbon sinks while also supporting the development of U.S. carbon markets.

Some of the biggest corporations in the world are making bold commitments to carbon neutrality. Apple and Procter & Gamble are among the companies that are partnering with Conservation International on natural climate solutions financed through voluntary carbon markets.

 

 

“No government is going to solve this problem. The solution is going to come from the private sector, and what government needs to do is create the framework within which the private sector can do what it does best, which is allocate capital and innovate.” 

John Kerry, U.S. Climate Envoy

 


Valuing “blue carbon” on Colombia’s coast

With support from Apple, Conservation International has generated the world’s first blue carbon credits in the mangroves on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Until now, this “blue carbon” — that is, carbon stored in coastal ecosystems — had not been adequately and accurately measured, effectively shutting mangroves out of carbon markets and precluding financial incentives to protect them. In partnership with local and international organizations, Conservation International is developing a new approach to valuing the full carbon potential of mangroves, which can store in a single square mile as much climate-warming carbon as the annual emissions of 90,000 cars.

 

Scaling up blue carbon

With partners, Conservation International is leading the International Blue Carbon Initiative, which focuses on mitigating climate change by conserving and restoring coastal marine ecosystems — such as salt marshes, seagrass and mangroves — globally.

In February 2022, alongside the government of France, the government of Costa Rica, the government of Colombia, AXA, Bank of America, Blue Ventures and other partners, Conservation International announced the creation of the Global Blue Carbon Coalition. This partnership will align investors and implementers around shared principles and priorities. It will fill scientific gaps, build technical capacity in key countries, and establish strong global standards — as well as create a portfolio of high-quality blue carbon projects to accelerate climate financing for biodiversity and local communities.

 

© Conservation International / Photo by Kimberly Hoong

Supporting communities in the Philippines

Working with Conservation International, Procter & Gamble (P&G) is supporting projects that protect, improve and restore critical carbon-stashing ecosystems — and the communities that rely on them.

Conservation International’s first project with P&G is in the Philippine province of Palawan, one of the world’s most climate vulnerable communities and the world’s fourth-most “irreplaceable” area for unique wildlife. We are working with Indigenous and local communities living in Palawan’s coastal mangrove and tropical upland forests to create sustained finance and cultural preservation opportunities, while reducing deforestation, land conversion and illegal logging. The project is expected to benefit more than 235,000 people and secure biodiversity-rich habitats, while delivering up to 3 million metric tons of carbon credits.

 

The Priceless Planet Coalition

Led by Mastercard, the Priceless Planet Coalition has 18 restoration projects globally, more than 80 corporate partners, and an initial goal of restoring 100 million trees around the world by 2025. Mastercard selected Conservation International and the World Resources Institute to lead the mobilization and coordination of the coalition’s restoration efforts — collaborating with local communities and stakeholders for long-term forest stewardship. Conservation International is also providing science-based best practices for site selection, implementation and long-term monitoring.

 

Natural Infrastructure Initiative

Adapting to the escalating impacts of climate change requires redefining infrastructure development as an opportunity to prioritize conservation and provide critical services to communities, such as coastal areas affected by rising tides and more intense storms.

Conservation International experts are working to combine efforts that restore natural buffers against sea-level rise, such as mangroves and coral reefs, with conventional engineering approaches to stop flooding — including seawalls — through a technique called “green-gray” infrastructure. Green-gray infrastructure approaches are shown to be anywhere between 20 and 80 percent more cost-efficient, while delivering social, environmental and economic benefits that traditional infrastructure does not.

Conservation International’s policy recommendations for governments’ COVID-19 economic recovery plans prioritize investments in “future-proofed infrastructure,” including green-gray solutions. Green-gray infrastructure was incorporated into the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was adopted in 2021.

 

Natural Security

Pandemic prevention policy

In a landmark 2020 study, Conservation International scientists found that stemming deforestation, limiting the global wildlife trade and extinguishing outbreaks of newly emerged viruses before they spread could significantly reduce the threat of future pandemics. These preventative measures cost approximately US$ 20 billion — a drop in the bucket compared to the pandemic’s massive economic toll.

The United States plays a leading role in stemming the spread of infectious diseases. With its partners, Conservation International has called on the U.S. government to create a new global fund for pandemic prevention and provide $2.5 billion in seed funding to leverage donations from other developed nations and the private sector.

Targeted investments in countries that are vulnerable to emerging infectious diseases — mostly in tropical climates — could be highly effective in preventing pandemics. Unfortunately, these programs are not funded at an appropriate scale, and would benefit from an expanded mandate to tackle the underlying drivers of pathogen spillover. Conservation International is working with partner organizations to increase federal investment in preventing pandemics at the source.

 

‘Natural Security’ Campaign

In 2018, a coalition of organizations including Conservation International launched the Natural Security Campaign. With funding from the Moore Foundation, the campaign engages policymakers on the national security threats caused by the exploitation of natural resources, including wildlife trafficking, illegal deforestation and black-market trade in animal parts. Conservation International and coalition partners are working to raise awareness of the destabilizing effects of these illicit activities.

 

Wildlife trade and trafficking

Illegal wildlife trafficking is one of the most lucrative illicit trades on the planet. Conservation International promotes a comprehensive approach to addressing the threats it poses — working with public and private sector partners to improve wildlife law enforcement, combat poaching, disrupt trafficking and reduce demand for illegal wildlife and wildlife products.

For example, Conservation International is a co-secretariat of the Elephant Protection Initiative, an alliance of 21 African countries dedicated to the conservation of elephants and their habitats through the mitigation and prevention of human-elephant conflict. This effort also protects a diverse range of wild animals and plants, addresses climate change, supports local livelihoods and combats illegal ivory trade.

Conservation International has supported the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to analyze and improve foreign wildlife laws, while working with special attaches and partners to build their capacity to combat wildlife trafficking abroad. We have worked with the U.S. Congress to advocate for legislation that protects international wildlife and critical ecosystems and prevents deforestation.

 

LEGISLATION

AMAZON21

Conservation International supports legislation introduced by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to combat deforestation and reduce carbon emissions around the globe. The bill, known as AMAZON21 (America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act), would authorize a trust fund of $9 billion for the U.S. State Department to enter into long-term, bilateral agreements with developing countries to assist them in ending deforestation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. AMAZON21 is now viewed as the key vehicle for advancing and funding President Biden’s “Plan to Conserve Global Forests: Critical Carbon Sinks.”

 

Tropical Forest Conservation Act

Conservation International supported the 2019 reauthorization of the Tropical Forest Conservation Reauthorization Act — a federal law that authorized debt-for-nature swaps. The program, which enables foreign countries to trade their debt to the U.S. for funds to protect local ecosystems, has generated an estimated US$ 336 million for tropical forest conservation around the world.

 

 

Partnerships

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): Conservation International has implemented more than 20 projects and programs in partnership with USAID over the past 30 years. In Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific region, these projects have been founded upon shared priorities – including developing sustainable livelihoods for local producers while countering deforestation, demonstrating a successful landscape approach to conservation, and building local capacity to preserve coastal livelihoods and pristine biodiversity.

 

U.S. Department of State: Conservation International works with the State Department and with U.S. embassies around the world to further local, regional and global security. To further the State Department’s mission to help developing countries achieve their climate goals and outcomes, Conservation International is implementing an “investment incubator” to attract private sector finance for forests and other landscapes in Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia, Peru and Vietnam. With this incubator, Conservation International and partners are developing road maps to channel significant capital to projects that support national and sub-national climate strategies.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): Conservation International’s Moore Center for Science has developed and implemented innovative earth observation projects in partnership with NASA for many years. Funding from NASA also contributed to the creation of the Trends.Earth tool, a platform for monitoring land change. More recently, Conservation International and NASA helped the Liberian government map its diverse ecosystems to quantify the economic benefits they provide to people.

 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Conservation International has partnered with NOAA for more than a decade on projects that preserve and protect fisheries, coral reefs, estuaries and vulnerable coastal species worldwide. Our most recent NOAA funding has enabled us to expand coral reef projects in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. In addition, Conservation International’s Hawai’i team works closely with NOAA to protect traditional culture and foods, while promoting sustainable seafood.

 

Multilateral Development

Conservation International is an accredited agency of both the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund. Learn more about our work with governments.

The Global Environment Facility

Conservation International works with national governments to design projects, advise on their execution and ensure they meet high technical and financial standards — while complying with the GEF’s environmental and social safeguards.


Green Climate Fund

Conservation International works with national governments and partners around the world to develop and implement ambitious projects that sustainably mitigate climate change and build people’s resilience to its impacts.