Conservation & Sustainable Development Grant Guidelines

Understand guideline and funding cycles

MacArthur publishes program guidelines to help applicants determine whether their idea for a grant fits within a particular grantmaking strategy.

As a general rule, applicants should base this decision on three related criteria that appear in program guidelines: the topical focus addressed by the grantmaking strategy; the geographic area covered by the grantmaking strategy; and, finally, the type of funding (i.e., general operating support, research, program support, etc.) that supports the grantmaking strategy.

Like most strategic grantmaking foundations, the MacArthur Foundation considers funding only those applications that closely match the topical, geographic, and funding criteria for a specific grantmaking strategy.

Questions can be addressed to Program Officer John Watkin (Africa), Program Officer Christopher Holtz (Asia), Program Officer Kate Barnes (Coastal Marine), or Program Officer Amy Rosenthal (Andes.

Geographic and Programmatic Priorities

Our geographical focus will be on three regions: the Great Lakes of East Central Africa, the Greater Mekong and its headwaters, and the watersheds of the Andes. Each is a place of high biodiversity, important freshwater service, and carbon-storage value.

The Great Lakes and the Mekong were selected because success there would benefit the largest numbers of vulnerable people and because of the high level of threat to the ecosystem. The Watersheds of the Andes were selected because of their remarkable biodiversity values and because low population densities have left the habitat relatively unscathed.

Our coastal-marine grantmaking focuses on restoring and protecting coastal and marine biodiversity by reducing the threat of unsustainable nearshore fishing.  Grantmaking will support expanding the application and uptake of effective local fisheries management approaches in four high-biodiversity regions, including Indonesia, The Western Indian Ocean, Melanesia, and the Caribbean. 

Our policy grants will target biodiversity conservation at the global scale and reinforce the priorities of our regional work.

We will focus on four issues:

  1. Climate change mitigation and adaptation;
  2. Understanding and influencing China’s consumption patterns and use of natural resources, particularly in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Pacific;
  3. Integrating environmental and social considerations into commodities markets, (for example: carbon, timber, oil palm, cotton, and soy);
  4. Responding to the overexploitation and illegal use of marine fisheries.

View the Conservation & Sustainable Development Program Priorities.


MacArthur’s conservation and sustainable development program makes grants on a three-year recurring cycle, with one portfolio of grants prepared annually within each region.

A typical grant portfolio consists of 10 to 15 grants per grantmaking area per year. Most approved grants receive funding for a three-year period and grant renewals are evaluated based on performance following three-year implementation.

Regional and thematic grantmaking cycles are listed below. The process of soliciting inquiries differs by region, theme, and cycle. Please see below and regional grant guidelines for more information about our deadlines and processes for submitting inquiries.


All Conservation & Sustainable Development grantmaking is currently by invitation only.


Updated January 2017