Community-based Biodiversity Conservation

Community-based bioidiversity conservation
Photo: Adriana Dinu / UNDP

Local actors are the chief users and guardians of the world’s ecosystems, and they make the vast majority of daily environmental decisions with their land use and investment choices. Over generations, they have used their traditional knowledge to manage natural resources, conserve ecosystems, and adapt to environmental changes. Despite its basis in this knowledge and experience, the transformative potential of local actors to manage the environment and to achieve development goals has not been adequately harnessed. This situation stems from a systematic failure to deliver the rights, access and finances that local actors need to fully and sustainably utilize their natural resource assets and frame their own development solutions. UNDP is committed to addressing this failure, and harnessing the untapped potential of local communities to parley their environmental resources into sustainable sources of income and empowerment.

UNDP’s Strategy for Local Capacity and Action for the Environment and Sustainable Development guides collaborative work at the local level from a model of change that requires national governments and international organizations to acknowledge the potential of local action to achieve development goals—and to provide the resources, rights, training and opportunities for local actors to realize this potential. Several collaborative activities focus on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, poverty reduction, and adaptation to climate change:

  • The Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (SGP): has provided over 12,000 small grants—averaging US$ 23,000—to local NGOs, community-based organizations and indigenous peoples in 122 countries to safeguard the ecosystems and natural resources on which they depend. The SGP has engaged in thousands of partnerships across the world, building a remarkable global constituency of civil society stakeholders in pursuit of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. A good example of these partnerships is the Community Management of Protected Areas for Conservation Programme (COMPACT), a jointly funded initiative of the GEF SGP and the United Nations Foundation.

  • The UNDP Equator Initiative:  a partnership programme that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses and grassroots organizations to build the capacity and raise the profile of local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Through its biennial Equator Prize, the Equator Initiative has recognized 103 examples of local ‘best practice’ in biodiversity management and poverty reduction from 55 countries, drawing the attention of high-level politicians, policy-makers and international media.