The long-term vision of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in Lao PDR was at the center of discussions over the past two weeks at consultation workshops organized and facilitated by IUCN, and attended by representatives from the government, private sector and civil society.
CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Francaise de Development, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the John D. and Catherine T.MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. It is a global programme that provides grants to non-governmental organizations and other private sector partners to protect critical ecosystems. CEPF’s grant making in Lao PDR, which falls under the Indo-Burma hotspot, is coordinated by a Regional Implementation Team (TIT), led by IUCN, in partnership with Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden (KFBG) and Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN). CEPF is not intended to be a permanent presence in each hotspot, but rather works toward an end point at which local civil society “graduates” from its support with sufficient capacity, access to resources, and credibility to respond to future conservation challenges. “These workshops will allow us to prepare realistic long-term strategies which establish what the end point for CEPF investment in Lao PDR looks like. It will also enable us to determine what steps we must take in order to get there,” said IUCN Lao PDR Country Manager Adam Starr in his opening speech at the first consultation workshop. Conducted in both English and Lao, the first workshop kicked off with IUCN and participants providing inputs to the background section of the CEPF long-term vision, specifically: o Social, political, and economic context for biodiversity conservation including barriers to and enabling factors for the emergence of a strong conservation-focused Civil Society Organizations (CSO) movement able to graduate from CEPF support. o Status of CSOs with a conservation-focused mission and their development over the past 15 years. o Status of sustainable financing mechanisms including potential to provide a stable source of long-term funding for CSO-led conservation actions. o Public policies in development sector with a large footprint on biodiversity such as agriculture forestry, fisheries, mining and CSO strategies to influence these policies. o Industries with a large footprint on biodiversity such as rubber, oil palm, mining, and hydropower, key change agents (i.e., market leading influential companies), and CSO strategies to mainstream biodiversity into business practices. During the workshops, participants also reviewed and discussed the graduation conditions set by the CEPF Secretariat. Through a guided, participatory process, they then worked with IUCN staff to set the criteria and targets for Lao PDR to graduate from CEPF support. To date, CEPF has awarded a total of USD 711,165 to Lao PDR, for the implementation of 13 projects. From now till the end of the year, the CEPF secretariat will be reviewing Letter of Intents submitted following the 2015 call for proposals. The secretariat will be holding National Advisory Committee meetings in Hanoi, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and Hainan in October and November, and will inform applicants of their decisions in December. About CEPF in Indo-Burma CEPF has been making grants to civil society groups in the Indo-Burma Hotspot since July 2008, guided by an ecosystem profile developed through a consultative process conducted in 2003. Over the first five-year investment phase, CEPF has invested a total of $9.5 million in the hotspot. Encompassing more than 2 million square kilometers of tropical Asia, Indo-Burma is one of the most threatened of Earth’s 34 biodiversity hotspots. Only 5 percent of its natural habitat remains in relatively pristine condition. The region is still revealing its biological treasures. Six large mammal species have been discovered in just the last two decades. Among them is saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis), an enigmatic forest bovid, which inhabits the Annamite mountains of Lao PDR and Vietnam, and is the flagship species for conservation in the hotspot. This hotspot holds a remarkable diversity of tortoise and freshwater turtle species, most of which are threatened with extinction due to over-harvesting and extensive habitat loss. Bird life is also diverse, with more than 1,200 different species. The combination of economic development and increasing human population is placing unprecedented pressure on the hotspot’s natural capital. The large portion of the population living in rural areas and high levels of poverty throughout mean that natural resources, particularly those of forests, freshwater wetlands and coastal habitats, form a critical component of livelihood strategies for many of the hotspot’s inhabitants. Consequently, poverty alleviation and biodiversity conservation are inextricably linked. CEPF’s support focuses on Cambodia, Lao P.D.R., Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as parts of southern China. Investments are targeted at five priority geographies: the Sino-Vietnamese Limestone, Mekong River and Major Tributaries, Tonle Sap Lake and Inundation Zone, and Hainan Mountains biodiversity conservation corridors, plus Myanmar. For more information contact:
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