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The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grants $25 million to Safeguard Biodiversity in Key Regions of the World

Grant Brings Fund To Protect Biodiversity Hotspots to $100 million

Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2001)—With a grant of $25 million, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has joined the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, a major effort to preserve the most critically endangered and biologically richest areas on Earth.

In addition to MacArthur, the members of the Fund are Conservation International, the Global Environment Facility, and the World Bank. The new grant brings the assets of the Fund to $100 million toward a goal of at least $150 million. The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) focuses on biodiversity hotspots, the highly threatened regions of the Earth where an estimated 60 percent of all terrestrial species diversity are found within only 1.4 percent of the planet’s land surface.

"For more than a decade, the MacArthur Foundation has embraced the hotspots strategy to save the planet’s most endangered species and habitats," said Peter A. Seligmann, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Conservation International. "With this grant the Foundation continues that work as a leading partner in protecting the world’s most threatened areas, and we are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for participating in such a vital mission."

The grant in support of conserving biodiversity was made to Conservation International, as the managing partner of the Partnership Fund.

Said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation: "The world’s most critical ecosystems have been identified; scientific research has documented the species population; and international and local groups have pioneered methods to protect critical areas while encouraging sustainable uses. Now the challenge is to bring preservation efforts to a scale sufficient to get the job done—to protect forever areas in the developing world that contain the world’s biological heritage. This partnership among multilateral agencies like the World Bank, national governments and local groups, and leading international organizations like Conservation International offers great hope."

"The CEPF represents an innovative partnership that conserves unique ecosystems while at the same time improving local livelihoods," said World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn. "We are delighted that the MacArthur Foundation has joined us in support of these goals."

Each of the member organizations has committed $25 million to the CEPF, which provides financial support, technical expertise, field knowledge, and information to mostly nonprofit organizations working to conserve biodiversity in developing countries. Each donor is committed to combining proven strengths, leverage with other groups, and expertise to the Fund in a way that complements existing programs.

"The CEPF will be a powerful tool for governments, international institutions, and community groups to protect our natural heritage and promote truly sustainable development," said Mohamed T. El-Ashry, Chief Executive Officer of the Global Environment Facility.

"Each organization recognizes that the challenge to conserve the last remaining pristine areas on Earth is better addressed by forging innovative and strategic partnerships than by going it alone." said Seligmann.

Since the Fund was launched in August 2000, the CEPF Donor Council has approved the spending of more than $11 million in grant resources, divided among priority areas in West Africa, Madagascar, and the Vilcabamba-Amboró corridor straddling Peru and Bolivia.

Grants will be approved on an ongoing basis, with the objective of investing $150 million in biodiversity conservation over the next five years.

"This is work that must be done now," said Fanton. "If there is not a concentrated effort to preserve these remarkable regions of the world, the species living there will be gone forever."

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is seeking at least two additional partners who will make a contribution of $25 million each to ensure that the Fund reaches its goal.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking institution dedicated to helping groups and individuals foster lasting improvement in the human condition. The Foundation seeks the development of healthy individuals and effective communities; peace within and among nations; responsible choices about human reproduction; and a global ecosystem capable of supporting healthy human societies. The Foundation pursues this mission by supporting research, policy analysis, dissemination, education and training, and practice. Located in Chicago, IL, The MacArthur Foundation makes grants totaling more than $170 million annually.

Founded in 1987, CI conserves Earth’s living heritage by working in alliances to protect the world’s highest priority areas for biodiversity. The organization has identified 25 biodiversity hotspots that are the focus of its international efforts. These hotspots are biologically rich areas that are under extreme threat. Together, they contain more than 60 percent of terrestrial biodiversity on just 1.4 percent of Earth’s land surface. Currently, CI works in more than 30 countries on four continents.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provides grants and concessional funding to developing countries and economies in transition for efforts to protect the global environment. As the financial mechanism of the Convention on Biological Diversity, GEF is the principal international funder of biodiversity conservation, with a portfolio of more than 400 biodiversity projects totaling $5.4 billion in over 140 countries.

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, please contact:
  • Conservation International: Lisa Bowen (202) 912-1204

  • The MacArthur Foundation: Ray Boyer (312) 726-8000

  • World Bank: Kristyn Ebro (202) 458-2736

  • GEF: Hutton Archer (202) 458-7117

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