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Governments are essential to conservation – whether through informed leadership, enlightened policies, or public funding. Yet they often face significant challenges in reconciling conservation with national development goals, financial constraints, and political realities.

The Center for Conservation and Government (CCG) helps governments overcome these challenges by piloting new approaches to priority concerns, building diverse and powerful coalitions, and engaging and educating political leaders. The CCG is staffed by a small core of professionals with expertise in policy, economics, and other relevant disciplines as well as experience working for and with government. Since CI established the CCG in 2003, its major initiatives have included:

The United States has a significant impact on global conservation efforts. It is the largest provider of international conservation funding; it heavily influences global policies and institutions; and it possesses unparalleled technical capacity and expertise. For these reasons, the CCG works to educate key U.S. decision makers about pressing conservation issues and opportunities for increased American engagement. For example:

  • The CCG has helped catalyze a bipartisan International Conservation Caucus (ICC) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The caucus seeks to develop a more informed base of Congressional support for international conservation. ICC members have led efforts to pass the Congo Basin Forest Partnership Act, secure resources for the Global Environment Facility, reauthorize the Tropical Forest Conservation Act and incorporate forest conservation into reconstruction plans for Liberia.

  • The CCG partners with The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, and World Wildlife Fund to develop an annual International Conservation Budget highlighting key U.S. government programs that provide financial support to conservation programs in other countries.

  • The CCG was a lead author of “Rising U.S. Stakes in Africa: Seven Proposals to Strengthen U.S. Africa Policy.” This report was presented to Secretary of State Colin Powell in July 2004. One of its seven recommendations is to initiate a major natural resource conservation initiative on the continent.

Weak enforcement of natural resource laws is a major impediment to conservation efforts throughout the biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas. As valuable supplies of timber, fish and other natural resources diminish, the pressure increases on those resources that remain.

Frequently, creating protected areas and hiring people to guard them are perceived as adequate enforcement responses. Although these steps are essential, the challenge is far greater. With support from USAID, the CCG has taken a more holistic approach to analyzing enforcement performance and to designing cost-effective investment strategies to strengthen enforcement regimes.

Building on initial experience in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and the Philippines and on consultations with many of the world’s leading enforcement professionals, the CCG is developing “best practice” guides to help government agencies adopt state-of-the-art enforcement technologies and practices. The CCG is also using the results of its initial work to engage parliamentarians in Southeast Asia to develop innovative solutions to curb illegal wildlife trade in that region.

Large-scale infrastructure investments—such as roads, dams, and pipelines—can threaten biodiversity and frequently fail to provide promised development benefits. The CCG seeks to change how the World Bank and other donors select such projects for financing through an approach that encourages a more rigorous and cooperative analysis of alternatives. The goal is to promote investments that deliver development more effectively with less biological disturbance.

CCG piloted this approach in Indonesia and Brazil and has worked with the U.S. Forest Service, Woodrow Wilson Center, United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, and Chinese National Development and Reform Commission to catalyze broader international interest.

Conserving marine biodiversity will require a massive increase in marine protected areas and endangered species protection efforts. But these actions will only succeed if the overall health of marine ecosystems is maintained and, in many places, significantly improved. Healthy fish stocks and well-managed fisheries underpin the success of marine conservation efforts. Responsible seafood businesses share concerns about the health of the world’s oceans. Without healthy oceans and well-managed fisheries they also face a future of dwindling supplies and rising costs.

The CCG is working with responsible seafood businesses to form pro-conservation alliances with local fishers, fishery managers and NGOs. As a first step, the CCG partnered with CELB to develop McDonald's environmental guidelines for fish purchasing and is now working with McDonald’s and their suppliers to encourage governments to improve fisheries management and marine conservation.

Illegal logging poses a severe threat to biodiversity in regions such as Indonesia, West Africa and the Tropical Andes where protected areas are essential to the survival of orangutans, Sumatran tigers, chimpanzees, and other endangered species.

The CCG is generating increased public financial, technical, and diplomatic assets targeted to this problem. The CCG joined with the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to successfully advocate making protected areas a focus of the U.S. Presidential Initiative Against Illegal Logging, launched in July 2003. The CCG, together with CELB and programs in CI, is continuing work with the AF&PA and other public and private sector partners to develop activities and programs to help successfully implement the President's initiative. Ongoing efforts seek to engage Europe and Japan more actively on this issue.

Though they are a cornerstone of global conservation efforts, protected areas frequently suffer from insufficient resources and poor management. The CCG is working with governments in both donor and developing nations and with international institutions to mobilize greater support. For example:

  • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with 188 government Parties, is the preeminent international forum for addressing biodiversity concerns. In 2004, the CCG worked with governmental and NGO partners to help shape a CBD protected areas action plan, which stands as the most concrete and substantive international commitment to date on protected areas.

  • In 2003, the CCG produced a comprehensive review of international conservation funding from the major donor governments and multilateral agencies. This report revealed declining support amongst public donors for protected area investments and recommended a number of important steps to reverse this trend. Read the report (496kb PDF).

Resources and Links
CCG Reports:
Report: World Bank-IMF Coordination on Structural Adjustment and Poverty Reduction Programs (705kb PDF)
Report: Strengthening the Weakest Links (817kb PDF)
Report: Striking a Balance (496kb PDF)
Report: The Wrong Conditions (1.2mb PDF)
Report: Comparative Assessment of Development Options(827kb PDF)

CI Wide:
Frontlines: Ripping Off the Hotspots
Frontlines: The Fisheries Crisis

On the Web
UN Convention on Biological Diversity: http://www.biodiv.org/decisions/?dec=VII/28
President's Initiative Against Illegal Logging: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/illegal-logging/
Woodrow Wilson Center: www.wilsoncenter.org
United Nations Environment Programme: www.unep.org
The World Bank Group: www.worldbank.org


© CI, Sterling Zumbrunn
Gatherings like the World Parks Congress bring together government leaders and conservationists to work on expanding protected areas.

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