MacArthur Commits $176 Million to Conservation and Sustainable Development, Shares New Strategy
September 7, 2011 | Press Release | Conservation & Sustainable Development

The MacArthur Foundation, a supporter of conservation efforts around the world for more than 25 years, today announced a new $176-million, ten-year commitment to conservation and sustainable development and a new, broader strategy that builds on the Foundation's historic focus on preserving biodiversity to guide its grantmaking over the next decade.

"MacArthur will continue and expand its historic commitment to conservation and sustainable development," said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. "Looking ahead, we will broaden our focus to include areas where agriculture and extraction of resources threaten biodiversity, and we will invest in policy research and analysis to help societies respond effectively."

The new strategy expands MacArthur's effort into production areas, where people and conflicts threaten biodiversity; to coastal marine systems and watersheds; and to policy research and further consideration of global issues, such as climate change. Specific components of the new strategy include –

  • New grants to create and expand incentives to conserve ecosystems – for example, by quantifying the value of nature and creating mechanisms to transform theoretical values into actual revenue for governments and communities;
  • New grants to assist the rural poor in securing and managing their traditional natural resources to improve their livelihoods;
  • Future grantmaking focusing on four major drivers of ecosystem decline globally, including global climate change and increasing demand for food, energy, and water; and
  • New policy research and analysis grants to help us understand and respond to increased pressures from development and climate change, including production agriculture for food and biofuels.

Approximately two-thirds of the Foundation's new grantmaking in this field will center around four geographic focal areas selected for their potential to produce multiple benefits to people: the Great Lakes of East Central Africa, the Greater Mekong and its Headwaters, the Watersheds of the Andes, and coastal marine (cross-regional).

"Our new strategy evolved from the success of our previous efforts and the work of our grantees in helping to protect land and seascapes around the world," said Jorgen Thomsen, MacArthur's Director of Conservation and Sustainable Development. "To achieve even greater impact in the future we must consider and address the significant role of water, food, energy, and climate change on biodiversity."

Proposals for new grants will be accepted beginning in 2012. Specific guidelines will be posted on the Foundation's website.

MacArthur was the first major private foundation to adopt biodiversity conservation as a core component of its international grantmaking. For the past ten years, MacArthur's conservation and sustainable development grantmaking has been focused on helping to protect large swaths of land and seascapes in eight geographical focal areas around the world and on improving the capacity of local groups to do so. That strategy has been effective in helping to significantly increase protected land and seascapes around the world.

Over the last year, the Foundation carefully reviewed its strategy by commissioning a comprehensive independent evaluation and a series of white papers on emerging issues and seeking insight from partners, leaders in the field, and MacArthur's Board of Directors.

Reflecting its commitment to transparency, the Foundation has posted on its website numerous materials that provide information and share what is being learned: the independent evaluation of its grantmaking, related white papers on emerging issues, a summary of the new grantmaking strategy, maps of the geographic focus areas, and an overview video explaining the new strategy.

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