Making ourselves redundant: protecting nature without philanthropic money?

By Thierry Renaud, Director, Impact & Sustainability

Project X phase 1, phase 2, phase 3…

Nature conservation is a loooong term process. A single 3-phase project can only reach partial or temporary results. There is a great temptation to pursue with a new phase “Just to consolidate what we started” and not to feel guilty about “not supporting the momentum until its end“. Depending on the actors, and the situations, this vision is necessary, a reflex, a burden … (tick what suits you). This creates situations of dependency and a project race that are not satisfactory for anyone, neither for donors nor for field-based organizations.

Will nature conservation always need philanthropy?

Yes. Philanthropy has a significant role: innovation, neglected themes, agility and flexibility, and is even a key component of public policy.

But … achieving Aichi targets for biodiversity requires between US$ 150 and US$ 440 billion annually. Philanthropic funding is just a drop of water…

Good news: There is a large variety of ways to fund nature conservation

We recently published an overview of the different conservation finance funding mechanisms. From new multilateral actors (green climate fund, …) to impact investing through green bonds or green tax, more than 13 mechanisms are reviewed. With a focus on the Mediterranean and West Africa, MAVA priority regions, we detail their potential and their feasibility. My conclusion is clear: even if there is no silver bullet, there is a real opportunity to put in place a range of complementary mechanisms that can generate long-term revenue for conservation.

How to get there?

Given the dynamism of the sector, I am optimistic. A wide range of actors are involved: NGOs, financial institutions, administrations, trust funds, donors, private sector … New professions are even emerging, particularly to make the connection between all these actors and translate the needs into a common language. There is a real interest.

We have reasons to be ambitious. By 2022, MAVA will support the development of conservation finance mechanisms in line with its strategic priorities. This will be one of the pillars of sustainability for which we have been working since our establishment. Therefore, we need strong, ambitious and proactive actors, who build bridges with other actors. We will be proactive in building the partnerships that we will support, but remain open to exploring opportunities.

The 4 key steps:

  • Live conservation finance Integrate sustainable finance mechanisms at the early stages of your strategies. Implement them at the heart of the projects, not just as ad hoc modules.
  • Build multi-stakeholder coalitions, integrating both public and private actors, and if possible trust funds whose ability to manage and invest funds for conservation is recognized.
  • Be proactive! There is often no actor willing to sit in the driver’s seat, a role which can last for a long time and be thankless. But without this actor, nothing happens!

And of course, if you are active in the MAVA priority regions and themes, contact me.

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