Does external financing influence national commitments to biodiversity conservation?

The conservation community has committed technical and financial assistance to low- and middle-income country (LMIC) governments to support the management costs associated with protected areas (PAs) as a means of conserving high biodiversity areas over the last few decades. Given other priorities, LMIC generally tend to have little capacity and weak governance for PAs, making external support imperative for conservation. In the past, funds provided to PAs have failed to provide long-term sustainable conservation outcomes, due to a focus on short-term finance for capital investment, with limited support for sustaining PA structures and institutions.

Consequently, the conservation community has been working with donors to shift toward consistent, long-term funding for PAs. Donors have listened and increasingly provide reliable and consistent funding. However, there has been no assessment of whether long-term funding of PAs leads to increased support from national governments for their PAs, or a continuous dependence on external donors, and thus there is little understanding of the best models for long-term, self-sustained protection. The Conservation Measures Partnership (CMP) is interested in understanding how different models of PA financial support influence the sustainability of investment in conservation.

Duke University collaborated with CMP to research this issue through a client-based course that involved Duke University undergraduate and masters-level students from the Nicholas School of the Environment and the Sanford School of Public Policy. Over the Spring 2020 semester, a student team conducted a literature review and expert interviews to develop a set of case studies that explore the role that different types of financial support play in either encouraging or discouraging a country’s investment in national PAs.

All final materials from this CMP Collaborative Learning Initiative can be found on the CMP workspace.

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