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Earth Today | New US$13.9-million grant supports biodiversity conservation

Published:Thursday | September 16, 2021 | 12:07 AM
CANARI team members help to plant a native tree as part of a carbon offset programme in partnership with Plan Vivo.
CANARI team members help to plant a native tree as part of a carbon offset programme in partnership with Plan Vivo.

HELPING COMMUNITIES conserve biodiversity, build resilience to climate change and pursue sustainable development will be the focus of a new five-year, US$13.9-million grant-making and capacity-building programme, launched by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot.

Civil society organisations, including community-based groups, non-governmental organisations, academia and the private sector will be eligible for the grants. The countries targeted by the funding are Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. The fund empowers civil society organisations to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots – the most biologically diverse yet threatened terrestrial ecosystems – and help communities thrive.

The new investment in the Caribbean islands will be financed through the CEPF-Caribbean Hotspot Project of the World Bank, using funds provided by the Government of Japan.

CEPF will have a regional implementation team (RIT) based at the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI). The team will help implement CEPF’s strategy by directly supporting grantees in the hotspot. CEPF and the RIT will also work with Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo to establish networks and partnerships among conservation organisations, government agencies, private businesses and communities.

“The CEPF grants will enable groups to build and apply local knowledge and skills to address the biodiversity crisis and climate challenges,” said Olivier Langrand, executive director of CEPF. “This local conservation leadership will guide the people of the Caribbean islands in protecting their unique nature and the services it provides. In addition, keeping natural systems intact contributes to the prevention of diseases transmitted from animals to people, such as COVID-19.”

“This funding will ensure that green growth and climate-smart development are at the forefront of economic recovery in the Caribbean by strengthening and supporting civil society organisations. It aligns with the World Bank’s Climate Change Action Plan, which supports the strengthening of climate adaptation and resilience in developing countries,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank country director for the Caribbean.

“It is an important moment for our region as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and deal with the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather,” noted Nicole Leotaud, executive director and managing partner of CANARI.

“Our grantees will work with Caribbean communities to build the health and resilience of the ecosystems that support our livelihoods, culture and well-being. Recent events have taught us just how important it is to have resilient systems and organisations that can withstand shocks,” she added.

CEPF previously invested US$6.9 million in the Caribbean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot from 2010 to 2016. CANARI also served as the RIT for that investment, during which grants were awarded to 68 civil society organisations in eight countries. Projects focused on sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, protecting watersheds, and nature-based tourism to support rural community development as well as food security.

Some grantee results from the initial investment include:

•Development and implementation of sustainable management plans that strengthened the protection of 25 key biodiversity areas covering 593,967 hectares;

• Strengthening of institutional capacity for 58 civil society organisations in eight countries; and

• Sale of the first carbon offsets in the Caribbean.

The new CEPF funding will support efforts begun under the previous investment by replicating and scaling up good practice models that emerged from the earlier grants. Little of the current funding from other donors in the hotspot is earmarked specifically towards species conservation, so grants will also address this gap.