Expanding Nature-Positive Economies


For centuries, development has come at the expense of nature.

What if nature and people could thrive in the same place, forever? What if communities could improve their livelihoods and food security and become more resilient to climate change without further damaging biodiversity and nature’s life-support systems?

Conservation International aims to link sustainable production and nature conservation in the world’s most critical ecosystems. We work with communities and corporations to design and implement sustainable development initiatives that conserve and restore nature — what we call “nature-positive” economies.


What are nature-positive economies?

Nature-positive economies are good for people, climate and nature. They help conserve and restore the many benefits that ecosystems provide, while enabling sustainable development for local communities. Efforts to support nature-positive economies can range from helping communities maintain their traditional livelihoods by promoting sustainable agriculture practices, to investing in the development of local, nature-based enterprises and improving market access for their products. Nature-positive economies also require ambitious sustainability commitments from companies that source raw materials from these landscapes.



The facts

of inhabitable lands
38 percent of Earth’s inhabitable lands have already been converted to croplands and pasture. 300 million hectares of additional land — roughly the size of India — will be needed to meet rising demand for agricultural products by 2050 unless we can improve production on existing croplands and pastures.
1 billion
More than 1 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods.
of the world’s poor
75 percent of the world’s poor rely on agriculture for their livelihoods — which in turn depends on nature for pollination, water and soil replenishment.

In 2022, 196 countries signed onto the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by conserving 30 percent of Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and promotes sustainable management of agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry.

In addition, in 2015, 193 countries signed onto the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to end poverty, fight inequality, prevent environmental degradation, improve public health and tackle climate change by 2030.

One essential element underlies these ambitious global targets: nature. Achieving them will require more ambitious actions from businesses, governments and communities working together in the right ways and in the right places to protect nature and help deliver sustainable development for all.




Planetary goals

Where humanity needs to be by 2030

We must adopt sustainable, nature-based and climate-resilient production systems that support the Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in some of the world’s most ecologically important places by 2030.




Here’s what we are doing

across Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the tropical Americas, where we are working to improve livelihoods while protecting nature
total area contained within globally important landscapes
who benefit from the ecosystem services provided by the lands and seas within these landscapes

Conservation International supports the transition to nature-positive economies in the world’s most important places for nature by:

  • Supporting Indigenous peoples and local communities in their efforts to conserve their lands and maintain their livelihoods.
  • Supporting communities and local entrepreneurs in developing sustainable enterprises that maintain biodiversity and ecosystem services in the landscape.
  • Working with the private sector to understand its impacts on nature and advance efforts to protect, more sustainably manage and conserve globally-important places.
  • Developing innovative ways to combine government, corporate, donor and investor funding to help large-scale areas transition to nature-positive economic development models.

Protect Nature Now



By 2025, Conservation International aims to:

Siti Normah holds up a medicinal root collected in a nearby forest.  
© Benjamin Drummond

Transition 30 million hectares to regenerative agricultural systems that link economic production and ecosystem protection for the benefit of rural communities.

© Benjamin Drummond

Work with communities and governments to conserve an additional 10 million hectares of intact tropical forests, grasslands and rangelands in globally important landscapes threatened by production.


On the ground

Conservation International is working around the world

© Andres Rueda
Bogotá, Colombia

The capital city of Colombia draws its water from the largest intact high Andean grasslands in the world. But the area, known as the Páramos Conservation Corridor, is at risk from intensive cattle grazing and cultivation, a rapid increase in urban growth rates and climate change. This threatens the ecosystem’s capacity to deliver fresh water to Bogotá and its surrounding municipalities — about 8 million people.

In 2006, Conservation International, in partnership with the Colombian government, started the country’s first climate change adaptation project. Currently, we are implementing climate change adaptation projects around Bogotá to protect its water supply. Over the past decade, much of the sensitive high grasslands have come under protective management. The loss of the critical forests connecting these spongelike areas to urban populations has practically ceased, and local communities have benefited from thriving community agriculture.

© Trond Larsen
Southern Africa

Conservation International is working with communal livestock farmers in high-biodiversity rural areas of Southern Africa to help degraded rangelands recover and become more resilient to climate change, while improving cattle health and providing access to new markets for farmers. The Herding 4 Health program, an ambitious partnership between Conservation International, Meat Naturally Pty and the Peace Parks Foundation, is expanding this work to cover more than 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of rangeland under improved management across at least five countries in the region.

Herding 4 Health uses a community-driven approach to address challenges faced by farmers living in and adjacent to protected areas. In Southern Africa, the integrated program will incorporate lessons learned from the demonstration sites in South Africa, while also focusing on human-wildlife conflict and novel approaches to animal disease control, market access and support for developing enterprises in partnership with local implementing partners.