Group photo of participants at a community engagement meeting in Bahnlah, Liberia

Working With Governments

© CI/photo by Bailey Evans

Nature’s ability to meet our needs for food, water, energy and other essential services for human well-being requires sound government policy and smart funding decisions. Governments around the world have adopted policies to protect wildlife, land, fresh water, air and marine resources. With the unprecedented destruction ​of critical natural resources, however, current policies cannot keep pace with today’s environmental challenges.

Why is it important?

National and global security

Depleting critical natural resources can lead to instability, regional conflict and mass migration. In Somalia, overharvesting of fish stocks has driven some fishermen to piracy. In 2010, member countries of NATO spent an estimated US$ 2 billion to address Somali piracy in the sea lanes off the Horn of Africa.


Worldwide, governments are recognizing the value of nature to long-term employment and prosperity, as well as the importance of natural resource stewardship to economic and global security. In 2012, leaders from 10 African countries agreed to integrate sustainable natural resource management into their economic development plans and established the Gaborone Declaration for Sustainability in Africa.

Food we eat

Around the world governments are working with local communities, businesses and nonprofit organizations to ensure proper management of the oceans and lands so that they can support productive fisheries and farms.

Water we drink

From New York City to southwestern China, governments are creating innovative ways for downstream water users to pay upstream landowners to maintain and restore forest areas and to prevent pollution. These “payment for ecosystem services” programs help sustain freshwater resources for current and future generations.

Climate stability

Conserving the world’s tropical forests is essential for mitigating the impacts of climate change. In 2009, the Government of Norway committed up to US $250 million to support Guyana’s efforts to promote sustainable economic development and to mitigate climate change through protection of the country’s forests.

What are the issues?

1,000 park rangers killed worldwide

Enforcement Capacity

The scale and sophistication of illegal logging, fishing and wildlife trafficking threaten to overwhelm the government personnel, equipment and technology available for enforcement. In the last decade, more than 1,000 park rangers have died in the line of duty, many of them victims of homicide. In recent years, governments from countries such as Cameroon and Botswana have had to deploy military forces to combat wildlife poaching.

Increasing pressure to cut foreign aid

Lack of Adequate Funding

In 2011, the 29 western nations that make up the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development dedicated US$ 6.1 billion to biodiversity-related aid — an amount representing 5% of total official development assistance. But with concerns over mounting budget deficits and other domestic economic problems, governments are under increasing pressure to cut foreign aid. As threats to the world's natural resources are increasing, economic uncertainties are challenging the ability of governments to sustain funding levels for international conservation.

© Robin Moore/ iLCP

By the Numbers

13% and 17%

Conservation International provided technical input that influenced the proceedings of the 2010 U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, where 200 countries reached a historic accord to increase global protection area goals from 1% to 13% of oceans and from 10% to 17% of land areas.



US$ 15.5+ billion

More than US$ 15.5 billion in U.S. funding was secured in FY11-FY16 congressional appropriations for Development Assistance and the Global Environment Facility, including key programs for forest conservation, wildlife protection, healthy marine ecosystems, sustainable landscapes and adaptation.

US$ 250 million

Conservation International provided scientific and policy analyses to support the inclusion of incentives to protect standing forests through the forest conservation mechanism known as REDD+. As a result, the government of Guyana committed to a low-carbon development program, and the government of Norway pledged US$ 250 million to support Guyana.

US$ 2 billion

Conservation International and BirdLife International led a coalition of seven European NGOs to increase funding for international conservation and the environment in the European Union’s 2014-2020 budget by US$ 800 million — bringing the total investment to US$ 2 billion.

Our solutions

Guiding governments with science

We provide governments with cutting-edge science that helps guide sound policy decisions for conservation and human well-being. Our data, methods and tools assist governments in understanding the value of oceans, forests, croplands, water supplies and wildlife populations, and help to inform actions necessary to protect these vital natural resources.

Forging public-private alliances

Meeting today’s environmental challenges requires the combined resources and ingenuity of both the public and private sectors. We help bring together governments, businesses, international institutions, research and academic organizations, NGOs and other partners.

Encouraging sound conservation policies

We serve as a trusted adviser to local, regional and national governments. We help inform policy decisions related to ocean health, wildlife trafficking, marine resources, forest conservation, sustainable agriculture, fresh water and other crucial issues. We also work with countries to meet commitments under international treaties related to biodiversity, climate change, endangered species and fisheries.

Mobilizing public funding for conservation

We help shape development assistance programs of the United States, Japan, Germany and Norway in order to provide maximum returns on investment in natural resource conservation and human well-being. Development assistance funding provides much-needed support for conservation work by Conservation International and partners in many countries. We also help to inform government contributions to the Global Environment Facility and other institutions that help fund solutions to biodiversity loss, climate change, wildlife trafficking and other key challenges of our time.

Raising awareness

Through education, engagement with partners and communication, we work to raise awareness about the importance of natural resources for human well-being. Our efforts help policymakers recognize the direct connection between resource scarcity and global and economic security.

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