Elephants walking across a road.
Elephants crossing through Tarangire National Park in Tanzania. © Nick Hall

Policy

International Conservation Funding

Protecting Global Lands and Waters

Build on America’s strong commitment to conservation through cost-effective programs that help promote global security and shared prosperity by sustaining nature and the services it provides to people everywhere.

Conservation for the Good of All

Investments from the United States in international conservation promote U.S. national and economic security objectives by supporting sustainable livelihoods, political stability and good governance in difficult regions of the world.

In turn, this enhances the capacities of those local and national economies to develop foreign markets for American goods.

For these reasons, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) remains a committed partner of the U.S. government as it continues to solidify and build upon America’s legacy of leadership on international conservation.

Global Approach

TNC’s work in the United States and abroad are closely related.

For example, the organization’s work with ranchers in the American West informs its current program in Kenya, where TNC is helping to introduce better grazing practices and more efficient marketing of cattle.

TNC supports local conservation groups in the developing world that work to increase the effectiveness of protection at parks and preserves established by local governments.

How Congress Can Act

TNC respectfully requests that Congress set FY20 international conservation appropriations at the following levels:

  • $300 million for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) biodiversity conservation.
  • $139.6 million for the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
  • $135 million for Sustainable Landscapes.
  • $20 million for the Tropical Forest Conservation Act.

In addition, TNC urges Congress to support international climate action, including the Green Climate Fund; to provide firm legislative guidance to USAID directing the agency to maintain conservation as part of its mission; to support large regional conservation programs, which are often the most efficient way to address problems that cross national borders; and to provide U.S. foreign aid to enable landscape-level infrastructure planning, which can reduce habitat fragmentation and community impacts while still achieving development goals such as power generation.

The U.S. contribution is especially important for leveraging and expanding private investment in more sustainable development. Strategic investments will support innovative policies and enabling environments in countries worldwide.

Priorities for International Conservation

USAID Biodiversity Conservation Programs. Assistance for conservation is focused on addressing priority threats to biodiversity and integrating biodiversity with other sectors for improved conservation and development results. With its new biodiversity policy, USAID is building on its successful track record in more than 50 countries to reduce resource loss and degradation, such as illegal extraction of natural resources, overfishing, poor agricultural practices and weak governance. USAID increasingly works with the private sector, universities and other partners to leverage both dollars and innovation for cost-effective conservation solutions. Nearly half the funds are targeted in tier 1 nations such as Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia, the Philippines and countries in the Amazon and Congo basins. TNC asks Congress to continue this critical work at the $300 million level.

Sustainable Landscapes. Tropical forests continue to be one of the most threatened ecosystems in the world, but efforts funded in part by Congress are advancing conservation in these areas. These initiatives prepare developing forest countries to curb deforestation while addressing rural poverty, good governance and land tenure issues; securing emissions reductions; and developing greater resilience in their landscapes. Through multilateral funds such as the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility and the Forest Investment Program, the United States has supported efforts to scale up these frameworks. TNC asks Congress to support $135 million for this work.

Global Environment Facility. The GEF is an international financial institution that provides grants to support natural capital and improve management of natural resources. With more than 4,500 projects in 170 countries, the GEF is the largest single financier of conservation. For 28 years, with $17.9 billion in investments, the GEF has leveraged $93.2 billion in co-financing from the philanthropic, public and private sectors. For example, the GEF is partnering with McDonald’s, Cargill, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to promote sustainable land and water management in Latin America, Africa and Asia. TNC asks Congress to support $139.6 million to honor the United States’ pledge to the GEF.

Science, Finance and International Cooperation. Two United Nations programs—the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—have received funding from the United States for years. The IPCC, for example, has received broad bipartisan support for providing high-integrity science on climate change since the panel’s creation in 1988. Similarly, the UNFCCC has been the primary space for policymakers to mount an international effort to tackle these risks. The United States has won plaudits worldwide for leading on climate action. U.S. foreign assistance also leverages substantial private investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Continued funding of a modest budget line will signal that America continues to place an importance on climate science and wants a place at the table in negotiations.