Changing the conservation game – new report finds that focusing on funding civil society yields dramatic results


Washington, DC – A new and highly strategic approach to delivering conservation of endangered plants and animals while also benefitting people could revolutionize conservation in the 21st century, a new report shows.

The report looks at the first 10 years of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), a funding partnership which unites civil society – meaning small, medium and large nongovernmental organizations and corporations – with some of the world's biggest conservation funding mechanisms. CEPF is a partnership of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), l'Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Government of Japan, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Conservation International.

It shows that, in just a decade, and with a total spend of just $124 million CEPF has:

  • Helped to create protected areas around the world more than double the size of the entire nation of Costa Rica.
  • Created more than 2,500 jobs in communities where often there has been little but subsistence agriculture.
  • Helped community organizations to generate additional funding of $261million to fund conservation.
  • Helped to protect vital ecosystems and ensure the survival of key endangered species in more than 560 of the world's key biodiversity areas, and 65 of the world's Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) sites.
  • Supported more than 1,500 civil society groups, many of whom are outside the reach of traditional funding mechanisms.

Patricia Zurita, Executive Director of the CEPF said: "By creating a direct relationship between local communities who care deeply about the lands and environment where they live, and our partners – who represent massive financial resources – both sides benefit. The conservation outcomes are long term because the people who deliver them are personally connected to them and the funding process is streamlined increasing both speed and accountability."

CEPF's site-based conservation actions which are built around the creation of an "ecosystem profile" – a comprehensive look at the environmental needs of an entire biodiversity hotspot, which can cover several countries - have benefited 131 Critically Endangered, 341 Endangered and 708 Vulnerable species, representing 7 percent of all globally threatened species in the world. These have included the Bengal tiger (Panthera Tigris), Jaguar (Panthera onca), the Mekong Giant Catfish (Pangasianodon gigas), Asian and African Elephant (Elephas maximus and Loxodonta africana), Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) and the Leatherback Turtle (Dermochelys coriacea).

The approach of bringing together a variety of experts from local, regional and international organizations to come up with a common plan to save a wide area cutting across countries and sometimes even continents – such as the Mediterranean Basin – is the foundation of CEPF. In this way, no conservation efforts are duplicated, resulting in a more impactful result on the ground. Also, once this common vision is laid out, the involved organizations can use to leverage additional funds, safeguarding the long term conservation of the area.

While the world has fallen short delivering on the biodiversity targets for 2010, CEPF - in its ten years of existence - has proven to be a unique and effective mechanism to deliver conservation and improving human well-being. The model that CEPF has created is highly effective primarily because it is flexible and ensures that people who live and work in the areas it seeks to conserve are the central figures in the planning and implementation of strategies to conserve them. CEPF's strategy is so effective that the partnership is now hoping that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which meets next week in Nagoya will adopt CEPF as a method of delivering its post 2010 goals.

Patricia Zurita added: "Conservation is not as simple as a cost/benefit analysis. CEPF has been working to help people to generate benefits from preserving the lands and protecting species where they live – often these are tangible financial benefits, but they always help people and nature to thrive together."


Editors' Notes

For Images of CEPF's work and partners visit:

DOWNLOAD: A New Model for Global Conservation (PDF - 2.73 MB)

For further information contact:

Julie Shaw
Communications, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
Tel: +1 703 341 2457
Mobile: +1 571 228 0860

Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui
International Media Manager, Conservation International
Tel : +1 703 341 2471
Mobile: +1 571 225 8345 e:

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF):
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund unites six global leaders who are committed to enabling nongovernmental and private sector organizations to help protect vital ecosystems.

AL'Agence Française de Développement (AFD): L'Agence Française de Développement, the French Development Agency, is a financial institution at the heart of France's Development Assistance Policy. It supports a wide range of economic, social and environmental projects in more than 60 countries.

Conservation International (CI): Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, Conservation International empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature for the well-being of humanity. As one of the founding partners, Conservation International administers the global program through a CEPF Secretariat.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF):The Global Environment Facility is the largest source of funding for the global environment. It brings 181 member governments together with leading development institutions and others in support of a common global environmental agenda.

The Government of Japan is one of the world's largest providers of development assistance for the environment. Japan seeks constructive measures and concrete programs to preserve unique ecosystems that provide people with important benefits and help reduce poverty.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. In addition to selecting the MacArthur Fellows, the Foundation works to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places and understand how technology is affecting children and society.

The World Bank is the world's largest source of development assistance. It works in more than 100 developing economies to fight poverty and to help people help themselves and their environment.

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