Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Ecosystems and biodiversity
Photo: Flower Valley Conservation Trust/Slingshot Media. Sustainable harvesting of fynbos flowers in the Cape Floristic Region of South Africa supports local livelihoods and promotes biodiversity.

UNDP is committed to building the capacities of developing countries and economies in transition to manage their biodiversity in line with their own priorities and needs. Through the provision of sound policy advice, and the development and implementation of programmes that help demonstrate sound biodiversity management practices on-the-ground and build capacity to sustain them, UNDP helps more than 140 countries to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, and to secure ecosystem services that are vital to human welfare and their development efforts.

UNDP has developed a Biodiversity and Ecosystems Global Framework for the period 2012-2020, positioning the organization to respond to future challenges – which include implementing the global Aichi Biodiversity Targets set out in the CBD Strategic Plan and advancing the sustainable development agenda that emerged from the Rio+20 Summit.

UNDP’s work on biodiversity and ecosystems is organized under the following key areas in which UNDP is providing technical and policy advice to governments, and support in accessing finance, building on proven best practices and encouraging innovation for development.

  • Integrating Biodiversity into Development
  • Unlocking the Potential of Protected Areas
  • Ecosystem-based Mitigation of & Adaptation to Climate Change

These key areas aim to maintain and enhance the goods and services provided by biodiversity and ecosystems in order to secure livelihoods, food, water and health, enhance resilience, conserve threatened species and their habitats, and increase carbon storage and sequestration.          

Two key approaches underpin our work: 

  • Developing capacity at the individual, institutional and systemic levels to identify and implement new options for effective democratic governance for biodiversity and ecosystem management; and
  • Assisting countries to identify, access, combine and sequence environmental finance for biodiversity and ecosystem management, mobilize pro-poor markets for ecosystem goods and services, and generate sustainable livelihoods.

Our work at a glance

UNDP’s biodiversity and ecosystems portfolio is the largest in the UN system. We work in 146 countries, managing 512 projects on ecosystems and biodiversity with US$ 1.5 billion in funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and other sources, and co-financing of US$ 3.5 billion. The ecosystems and biodiversity programme has been successful in:

  • helping to strengthen over 2,000 protected areas in 85 countries, covering 272 million hectares;
  • undertaking interventions in production sectors and development planning in 38 countries, covering 244 million hectares; and
  • promoting ecosystem-based adaptation to or mitigation of climate change in 71 countries.

UNDP also implements the GEF Small Grants Programme and the Equator Initiative partnership, working with indigenous peoples and local communities on groundbreaking work in biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. A number of other UNDP programmes also contribute to biodiversity management, including the Poverty-Environment Initiative, the UN-REDD Programme, and UNDP's Nairobi-based Drylands Development Centre.


UNDP’s success depends on effective strategic partnerships across a wide range of organizations, sectors and disciplines, working together with programme countries; international, national and local action groups; and local communities; the biodiversity-related Conventions, in particular the CBD and CCD; the UNFCCC; the GEF and other donor partners; development organizations including other UN organizations and development banks; research and science organizations; and the private sector.

UNDP will continue to play a key role within the GEF partnership in spearheading biodiversity and ecosystem management around the world. The GEF is the designated financing mechanism for the Rio Conventions and other multilateral agreements, and the single largest source of finance for biodiversity and ecosystem management globally.

Projects and Initiatives

Cambodia - Establishing Conservation Areas Landscape Management in the Northern Plains of Cambodia

The remote Northern Plains of Cambodia are an important repository of biodiversity: a refuge for key populations of 40 species on the IUCN Red List, including six critically endangered species. more

Egypt - Conservation & Sustainable Use of Native Biodiversity Resources used for Herbal, Medicinal, Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Purposes (MPCP)

Located at the northeastern corner of Africa and the western extension of Asia, Egypt contains two biogeographical corridors that link the tropics in the south with the palearctics in the north. more

View all Ecosystems and Biodiversity projects
In Focus
UNDP launches global framework

UNDP has developed a Biodiversity & Ecosystems Global Framework 2012-2020, positioning the organization to respond to future challenges, including implementing the global Aichi Biodiversity Targets set out in the CBD Strategic Plan.

Biodiversity for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific

This publication is both a celebration of biodiversity work in the Asia-Pacific region and a cautionary account of what is happening to the ecosystems that support millions of lives and livelihoods in the region.

Tourism Concessions in Protected Natural Areas: Guidelines for Managers

This publication assists protected area staff to plan for, allocate and manage concession activities to maximize the benefits of working with the private sector. It aims to boost the capability of protected area managers, governments and the private sector to develop and manage tourism concessions that protect the environment, foster rural development and provide business and economic opportunities from conservation.

Equator Initiative
Case Study Database

Access a rich repository of best practice case studies on biodiversity conservation and much more.

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