WASHINGTON, April 5, 2011 - The quest to protect globally threatened species received a boost today with the approval by the World Bank’s Board of a US$4.9 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) for the Save our Species (SOS) program.
SOS – which was officially launched last year at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan – is a unique partnership of the GEF, the World Bank, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and private sector sponsors, such as mobile phone supplier and telecom networks provider Nokia. Today’s approved GEF funding – which will support five years of SOS work - is being complemented by an additional $5 million from the World Bank’s Development Grant Facility.
The Save Our Species program aims to tackle the challenge of biodiversity loss by matching financial support from private business with international conservation expertise and countries facing species extinction.
“Today’s funding approval is a major step in advancing work that’s already underway through SOS,” said Mary Barton-Dock, the World Bank’s Environment Director. “Saving a species requires saving its habitat, landscape and ecosystem. Overcoming the global species extinction is going to take global understanding, global efforts and global resources.”
SOS is focusing its fundraising efforts on the private sector to promote on-the-ground action – backed up by worldwide experience of successful species recovery. In 2008, IUCN recorded improvements in the threat status for 40 species – including 37 mammals – as a result of carefully coordinated and implemented conservation action.
"Save our Species will become one of the most comprehensive funds for the protection of globally threatened species – and more importantly – with a strong involvement of corporations from developing and developed countries. Businesses will not only bring additional resources to match what the initial partners are contributing, but will certainly help spread the word on biodiversity through their unsurpassed presence throughout all of society’s affairs", said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.
SOS is establishing a grants program - with grants ranging from $25,000 to $800,000 awarded to civil society organizations able to show strong conservation outcomes for targeted threatened species. More than 60 grants are expected to be made over five years.
Last year, Nokia became the first company to join SOS. The French GEF has also committed to funding the initiative.
About the Global Environment Facility
The GEF unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, NGOs and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independent financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants. Since 1991 the GEF has invested $9 billion in grants and leveraged another $40 billion in co-financing for more than 2600 projects in 165 countries.