The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) in the Indo-Burma region will enter the new year with renewed optimism after making significant progress towards biodiversity conservation in 2016.
Active in the region since 2008, CEPF’s Indo-Burma portfolio now includes 125 grants (60 large and 65 small) worth over US$ 10.7million spread across the six countries of the hotspot: Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam and parts of southern China. Currently 87 projects are active, while 38 have been completed.
Completed projects include initiatives contributing to the long-term conservation of three Critically Endangered vulture species in Cambodia (implemented by BirdLife International), and strengthening conservation of globally threatened primate and tree species, and their limestone habitats in China (implemented by Fauna and Flora International). Many of these projects have emphasised the importance of participatory approaches through the empowerment of local communities, and engaging them in the management of their natural resources.
In October and November, National Advisory Committees (NACs) comprising representatives of local and international NGOs, government agencies and donors, convened in each of the hotspot countries to review Letters of Inquiry (LoIs) submitted following the seventh and eighth calls for proposals.
Proposals submitted address CEPF Strategic Direction 4 - "Empower local communities to engage in conservation and management of priority key biodiversity areas", Strategic Direction 6 - "Engage key actors in mainstreaming biodiversity, communities and livelihoods into development planning in the priority corridors", and Strategic Direction 8 - "Strengthen the capacity of civil society to work on biodiversity, communities and livelihoods at regional, national, local and grassroots levels".
CEPF’s Indo-Burma Regional Implementation Team (RIT), which comprises IUCN, the Myanmar Environment Rehabilitation-conservation Network (MERN) and Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) is now making final decisions and sending notification letters to successful applicants.
With continued focus on building the technical and managerial capacity of local civil society organisations to successfully apply for grants and effectively implement projects, CEPF organised several capacity building events in 2016. In August, CEPF and IUCN Thailand organised a two-day workshop on proposal writing and project implementation for 30 representatives of Thai civil society organisations.
A series of six training courses on the role and importance of civil society networks, natural resources management, and project development and proposal writing, co-funded by the EU, were also conducted for Myanmar civil society organisations between July and October.
Most recently, in November, CEPF grantees TRAFFIC, WWF, Freeland, Wildlife Conservation Society, NTFP/Poh Kao, Friends of Wildlife, Project Anoulak, MIup Baitong, and Wildlife Alliance, all participated in a learning event organised alongside the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade. The"Beyond Enforcement: Involving Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities in Combating Illegal Wildlife Trade” workshopwas organised by IUCN, with the IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED), TRAFFIC, and the (ICCA) Consortium, with funding from USAID and GIZ.
On CEPF’s plans for 2017, James Tallant, Senior Programme Officer, Species, for IUCN Asia and CEPF RIT Manager, said, “Much of the work of the RIT will continue, such as contracting successful grants following the 2016 calls for proposals, monitoring active projects, and organising training events. However, we will also have an increased focus on identifying best practices and capturing lessons learned as more CEPF-funded projects draw to a close.”
Additionally, the RIT will be hosting an event for the civil society network in Phnom Penh in February as a follow-up to the "Regional Convening on Environmental Networks" held in Thailand in March last year.
“We will organise a meeting of civil society organisations in the Indo-Burma region interested in promoting better collaboration and coordination. We also plan to scale-up some of our capacity-building efforts, with an additional focus on supporting civil society to better engage with, and influence government and private sector partners,” added Tallant.
Founded in 2000, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a global leader in enabling civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems by providing grants for organisations to help protect biodiversity hotspots, Earth’s most biologically rich yet threatened areas. CEPF is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.