Conservation finance

It pays to protect nature


Nature provides vital, unmatchable and ongoing returns to all of humanity. An investment in our planet is an investment in our future.

We can’t protect our lands, waters and other natural resources without long-term financial commitments. That’s why Conservation International works to find innovative, successful and lasting ways to fund conservation.

Alongside our partners, we’re establishing endowments that fund protected areas. We’re helping to relieve countries of their debts in exchange for investments in important ecosystems. And we channel funds to partner organisations around the world — so they can find innovative ways to make conservation happen.

Carbon finance

Even if we stopped using all fossil fuels tomorrow, a climate catastrophe looms due to the destruction and degradation of many of the world’s carbon-rich natural ecosystems. If we don’t actively work with the private sector, financial markets, and governments to design and fund scalable solutions to protect — and restore — the world’s tropical forests, peatlands and mangroves, then we will fail to halt a climate breakdown.

of tropical deforestation

Agricultural expansion drives nearly 80% of tropical deforestation, and the land sector (including agriculture and forestry) accounts for 24% of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.

Only 2%
of climate funding

Nature is one of our most cost-effective assets in the fight against climate change. Yet only 2% of global financing aimed at addressing climate change goes toward nature's climate solutions.

30% or more
of climate mitigation

Protecting and restoring tropical forests and mangroves can provide 30% or more of the mitigation action needed to limit average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

Conservation International addresses climate change on two fronts:

Adaptation: Helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change that are already happening and that are expected to accelerate, such as sea-level rise

Mitigation: Working to prevent further climate change by reducing emissions, enhancing carbon storage, etc.

Natural climate solutions

Climate change is here, we must respond now — and we can’t do it without nature. Conservation International’s nature-based approach to climate adaptation focuses on conserving, restoring and sustainably managing natural ecosystems.

One of the most important ways to scale up climate action is through investments, but currently only 2% of global climate investment goes to natural climate solutions. Conservation International engages in a broad range of activities to increase funding for nature-based solutions.

Our plan

Conservation International envisions a fundamental shift in how nature is leveraged as a solution to climate change. We seek to end all loss of high-carbon ecosystems such as primary forests, peatlands and mangroves, while enabling degraded ecosystems to recover, removing an incredible amount of carbon from the atmosphere through restoration. At the same time, we aim to engage private and public sector to maximize nature’s role in helping communities adapt to present and future climate impacts.

Conservation trust funds

The investments of Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund (GCF) protect critically important natural areas, benefiting communities around the globe that rely on nature for clean air, fresh water and food. We work to ensure the permanent protection of the natural areas most essential to human well-being through innovative financing solutions and long-term multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Healthy forests, coral reefs and freshwater ecosystems are the lifeline for billions of people. Through targeted funding and technical support, the GCF empowers local communities, NGOs and governments to protect their natural assets.


© Shawn Heinrichs

81 million hectares protected

Since 2001, the GCF has supported the protection of 81 million hectares (200 million acres) around the world, invested US$ 107 million and generated more than US$1 million in wages for local economies.

In Asia-Pacific, GCF support helped to launch the Sovi Basin Protected Area Endowment in Fiji in 2010 and the Blue Abadi Fund for Indonesia's Bird's Head Seascape in 2017.

Our plan

Many protected areas, once created, lack the funding and management structure to be effective. The GCF helps design and support innovative sustainable financing mechanisms for delivering a steady flow of investment returns to protected areas, while also building capacity in, and advising on, investment strategies and governance guidelines wherever appropriate.