The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is a funding partnership between the World Bank, the Government of Japan, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Conservation International and just this week the CEPF released a 10-year re-cap of their work indicating that their accomplishments have been so successful in biodoveristy conservation and promotion that their model of empowering civil society groups to take part in the process could become a global benchmark.
The approach of the CEPF is simple—"By creating a direct relationship between local communities who care deeply about the lands and environment where they live, and our partners—who represent massive financial resources—both sides benefit. The conservation outcomes are long term because the people who deliver them are personally connected to them and the funding process is streamlined increasing both speed and accountability," said CEPF Executive Director, Patricia Zurita, in the press release.
In the world of major international funding, the words "speed" and accountability" can go very far, as not many other foundations or non-profits can claim those two qualities as features of their work. But indeed with a budget of $ 124 million CEPF has created more than 2,500 jobs in primarily subsistence agriculture regions, enabled community-based NGOS to raise an additional $261 million for themselves, and helped to protect fragile ecosystems and endangered species in 560 key biodiversity areas.
CEPF calls their approach "site-based conservation actions." What CEPF representatives do is go into regions with vital biodiversity ecosystems and endangered species and create "ecosystem profiles" based on comprehensive needs assessments. Through the approach, species such as Bengal tigers, Asian elephants, and Leatherback turtles have been helped.
"The approach of bringing together a variety of experts from local, regional and international organizations to come up with a common plan to save a wide area cutting across countries and sometimes even continents – such as the Mediterranean Basin – is the foundation of CEPF. In this way, no conservation efforts are duplicated, resulting in a more impactful result on the ground," according to the press release.
The CEPF is even hoping to bring its everyone-at-the-table approach to the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan, next week. The idea sounds great and in many ways utopian, like the very type of participatory democracy or development that leaders have been after for years. The real test will be when the approach scales, and let's hope it passes.