CI at 25: Supporting Conservation in Critical Ecosystems

A man in the mountains of southwest China

A man in the mountains of southwest China, one of the regions where CEPF works. (© CI/photo by Haroldo Castro)

Throughout 2012, as we celebrate CI’s 25 years of impact, Editorial Director Todd Christopher is recounting the ways CI has been changing the face of conservation. Today he focuses on empowering civil society.

There may be no single best approach to conservation — tackling the environmental challenges that face us requires a diversified and balanced portfolio of projects and participants. We all have a role to play in protecting nature to ensure our well-being.

As a founding partner of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), CI believes that civil society — nongovernmental organizations, and local community and faith-based groups — holds the key to conservation that lasts. A joint grant-making program of six global leaders — the World Bank, the MacArthur Foundation, the Global Environmental Facility, L’Agence Française de Développement, the government of Japan and CI — CEPF achieves results by empowering civil society groups in the world’s most critical ecosystems to actively influence and participate in their conservation.

This flexible investment approach not only gives a stronger voice to those with the greatest vested interest in the outcomes, but also pays very real dividends for conservation. Grant recipients — whose selection is guided by regional investment strategies developed with local, regional and global stakeholders — have leveraged $321 million for hotspot conservation, more than doubling the initial investment made by CEPF.

In the decade since CEPF’s first grant was made in 2001, the results have been remarkable. More than 1,600 civil society groups, from small farming cooperatives to international organizations, have worked collaboratively to safeguard 20 biodiversity hotspots through investments in more than 50 countries. And, to date, CEPF funding has supported the establishment or expansion of 12 million hectares (almost 30 million acres) of protected area.

Todd Christopher

Todd Christopher

In 2010, CEPF released the first-ever plan for safeguarding the Mediterranean Basin, the world’s second-largest biodiversity hotspot, comprising 34 countries on three continents. The ecological and economic importance of the region — home to a half-billion people and host to 220 million tourists each year — spotlight the increasingly vital connection between conservation and prosperity.

Todd Christopher is CI’s editorial director. Read other posts in our “CI at 25″ blog series.

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