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Financing Successful Nature Conservation in Lean Economic Times: World Bank Report Highlights Latin America’s Successes

October 17, 2012

HYDERABAD, October 18, 2012 - New approaches to financing nature conservation that mobilize funding and community action can provide the long-term sustainability needed to secure healthier ecosystems and improve livelihoods, a World Bank report released today shows.

Launched at the 11th Conference of the Parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India, the report, Expanding Financing for Biodiversity Conservation: Experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean, documents five examples across Latin America where diverse sources of financing – from public to private to non-government – are being combined to fund effective conservation and community development.

Speaking at the CBD meeting, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said: “In an era of diminishing public expenditures for biodiversity conservation, we need innovation, communication and effective partnerships. We are seeing more and more good examples of partnership that cross the boundaries between the public, private and non-government spheres to bridge public financing gaps and to deliver effective conservation on the ground.“

One of the success stories the report highlights comes from the Brazilian state of Acre which decoupled its economic growth from deforestation. The State has reduced deforestation rates by 70 percent while growing its GDP by 44 percent between 2003 and 2008. It did so by reducing illegal deforestation through the monitoring of timber licenses, enforcing environmental regulations, regularizing land tenure, creating development programs in intact forest areas, targeting social programs at those most in need, and improving agricultural and forest production processes.

Also in Brazil, the state of Rio de Janeiro filled 43 percent of its conservation financing gap by setting up the Atlantic Forest Fund (Fundo da Mata Atlântica, FMA). It is partially funded through legally enshrined compensation payments for the environmental impacts of industrial and infrastructure projects. The funds are being used to finance projects in approximately 20 protected areas.

Meanwhile, Peru attracted additional funds to its protected areas by signing management contracts with nongovernment organizations. The contractors are responsible for spending at least as much as the government, but have raised up to four times more, outstripping the government’s annual contributions.

As countries search for ways to conserve the world’s biodiversity, Latin America is showing the way. The following elements are needed:

  • Variety in arrangements. Governments are raising resources from diverse stakeholders, adapting a variety of arrangements to local circumstances.
  • Enabling legal and institutional support. Government agencies need to be empowered by regulations and human resources and enforceable agreements with communities, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.
  • Capacity based on record of experience. The creation of a formal civil service for protected area agencies (including national parks) and for conservation aspects in associated forestry and planning agencies is key to success.
  • Building social capital. Conservation needs to be owned by the communities who know best about nature. Successful conservation programs have transformed them into the strongest allies.
  • Clarity about conservation objectives. People can mobilize when targets and results are clear and can be tracked transparently and in the near term.
  • Strong government leadership. Government leadership is needed for the foreseeable future because the true value that biodiversity provides to humankind is yet to be fully quantified, and ecological services are generally not traded in markets.


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