Press Release

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Launches $150 Million Fund to Better Protect Biodiversity Hotspots

Washington, D.C. (22 August 2000) – A new $150 million fund designed to better safeguard the world's threatened biological hotspots in developing countries was launched today as a joint initiative of Conservation International (CI), the World Bank, and the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) focuses primarily on biodiversity hotspots - highly threatened regions where some 60 percent of all terrestrial species diversity are found on only 1.4 percent of the planet's land surface.

The threat to species diversity is reflected in the mounting loss of forests and other plant and animal habitat worldwide. Eighty-eight percent of the original hotspots are already destroyed. Some 12 percent of all mammal species and 11 percent of all bird species are threatened with extinction.

"This is a new source of money exclusively for local groups whose work is central to protecting the biodiversity hotspots," said Peter A. Seligmann, CI Chairman and CEO. "The aim is to help agencies and communities to pull together more effectively and have a greater impact. Too often the many ongoing efforts in the hotspots fail to deliver because people don't know what others are doing or because crucial activities - often at the grassroots level - are not funded."

The Fund's administrative flexibility will ensure that conservation investments achieve maximum impact. And its streamlined process of decision-making will allow quick responses to new threats and for smaller-scale projects that are often extremely time-sensitive. The Fund provides quick and easy access to grant guidelines and application forms through the Internet, and applications can be submitted online, via CI will oversee day to day management of the Fund with the World Bank and the GEF playing an oversight role alongside other sponsors.

The Fund will advance the global conservation agenda on several fronts, resulting in improved management of protected areas and coordination in biodiversity corridors. Investments will support projects such as training, transnational planning, local dialogue with extractive industries, conflict resolution, priority setting and consensus building, strengthening indigenous organizations, and facilitation of partnerships between the private sector and protected areas.

"The Fund is an important step in galvanizing the kind of local action that can produce tangible benefits from the global perspective," said Mohamed T. El-Ashry, GEF Chairman and CEO. "If we do things right, the multiplication of lessons learned and actions by individuals and communities can provide enormous returns for biodiversity conservation on a globally significant scale."

CI, the World Bank, and the GEF each plan to commit $25 million to the Fund during the next 5 years. The remaining $75 million will be sought from other donor agencies. The Fund's areas of focus during its first year of operations will be on the hotspot regions of Madagascar, West Africa, and the Tropical Andes. Each subsequent year, the Fund will invest in a minimum of five additional critical ecosystems.

"No single organization can do it alone. By creating strategic alliances among diverse groups, we will combine unique capacities and eliminate duplication of efforts," said Conservation International Vice President Jorgen Thomsen who will serve as the Executive Director of the CEPF. "The Fund maximizes the strengths of its three initial investors, building upon CI's strategic focus on the hotspots, the World Bank's dialogue with high level decision makers, and the GEF's extensive reach that includes the participation of governments and nongovernmental organizations in more than 165 member countries."

A global nonprofit organization, Conservation International applies innovations in science, economics, policy, and community participation to protect the Earth’s richest regions of plant and animal diversity in the biodiversity hotspots, the major tropical wilderness areas, and the key marine ecosystems. CI works in 32 countries on four continents. For more information about CI’s programs, visit

The World Bank’s mission is to help developing countries fight poverty and raise living standards in a sustainable way. In carrying out this mission, the Bank has become a major financier of biodiversity conservation. Over the last decade, it has developed a portfolio of conservation projects and programs worth some $2 billion. For more information about the World Bank’s biodiversity programs, visit

The Global Environment Facility provides grants and concessional funding to developing countries and economies in transition for projects to protect the global environment. As the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity, it is the principal international funder of biodiversity conservation. For more information about the GEF’s programs, visit

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