Canadian conservation group pledges US $ 100 million for biodiversity

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The US $ 100 million pledge from Canada’s International Conservation Fund marks the latest addition to the US Protecting Our Planet challenge, which aims to direct US $ 5 billion in private donations to protect some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. world.Cristina Mittermeier / International Conservation Fund of Canada

Canadian philanthropic organization specializing in overseas conservation has pledged US $ 100 million to increase its global impact, a four-fold increase from its previous efforts, which the organization says are needed to help address a growing biodiversity crisis.

The commitment of Canada’s International Conservation Fund (ICFC) marks the latest addition to the “Protecting Our Planet Challenge”. The based in the United States The initiative aims to devote US $ 5 billion in private donations to the preservation of some of the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Coalition partners underscored the urgent need for more resources to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.

This goal – also known as the 30×30 – has gained ground among conservation advocates and will likely be the focus of discussions at the next United Nations biodiversity conference, which will take place this spring in Kunming, China. .

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Molly Bartlett, Executive Director of the Nova Scotia-based CFCB, said she hoped her organization’s commitment, announced last week, would inspire individuals and decision-makers in Canada to think more about conservation in Canada. – beyond the borders of the country.

“We really want this to be a catalyst,” Ms. Bartlett said of the new engagement, which would fund the organization’s projects over the next 10 years. “We have a very committed core of donors who can donate at this level, but we hope to do better than that. “

The commitment was praised by Cristian Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, a New York-based conservation group that helped develop and launch the Protecting Our Planet challenge. He said the original coalition, made up of nine US-based philanthropic groups, was expanding to include donors in other countries, including Canada.

“We need to mobilize additional funding to support the implementation of 30×30 globally and promote collaboration and coherence between donors and implementers to have a big impact on the ground,” he said.

Founded in 2007, the ICFC has supported projects in 35 countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Last year, the organization released a report that found Canada spends almost 150 times more on national conservation programs than it does internationally, unlike several European countries which have a higher record. balance. Between 2016 and 2018, Norway alone spent 30 times more than Canada on international conservation. The Scandinavian country is often cited as having had a measurable impact on the protection of tropical forests, which benefits species while helping to slow global warming.

As an intermediary for private conservation dollars, the ICFC has also focused on tropical biodiversity. Its flagship project supports the Kayapo, an indigenous group living in a vast area of ​​southeastern Amazonia in Brazil the size of the island of Newfoundland. The aim of the project is to help the Kayapo protect their territory from loggers and others seeking to exploit the region, which includes millions of hectares of intact tropical forest surrounded on three sides by land that has been deforested and which are now pastures for cattle. .

“The conservation community has recognized that without the Kayapo people, this forest would be long gone,” said Canadian conservationist Barbara Zimmerman, who has led the project since its founding in the early 1990s.

Despite success in helping to maintain the region’s ecological bounty, Dr Zimmerman said the project now faces easing restrictions and lax enforcement of environmental protections under Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. She added that before Mr. Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019, there was more help from the authorities to tackle illegal logging and mining activities.

“It was not adequate, but the government was trying to enforce the protected areas.” she said. “Now it’s much more difficult. “

Brazil and Canada are among the countries that have pledged to end deforestation by 2030 in a declaration signed last week at UN climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland. But biodiversity experts say many of the world’s most environmentally sensitive regions don’t have much time. Norway, which has also signed the anti-deforestation pledge, has separately indicated that it wants to see a more concrete commitment from Brazil before restoring funding it suspended in 2019.

Catherine Potvin, tropical forest ecologist at McGill University, said that while private donations such as those led by the ICFC can play a positive role, it is imperative that national governments pursue a collective and concerted approach to protect the biodiversity at the United Nations meeting next year.

“As citizens of the planet, we are very interconnected,” she said. “Any environmental disaster that occurs anywhere in the world has ripple effects for everyone.”

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