Conservation Trust Funds are simultaneously presented at brown-bag lunch and CFA webinar

Thursday, Mar 21 2013

On March 12th, 43 CFA members came together in a physical and virtual presentation on the challenges and collaborative Initiatives of CTFs.

The presentation was moderated by Yoko Watanabe, from the GEF. Yoko commented on the importance and innovativeness of the about 60 CTFs around the globe. The GEF has supported 44 CTFs so far for grant making initiatives, as well as for the financial sustainability of Protected Areas management.

Mapping conservation investments: the Ecofunds Database
Rosa Lemos, CEO, introduced Funbio, The Brazilian Biodiversity Fund, a 17 years old fund that was created with a start-up grant from the GEF. Since its creation, Funbio has managed close to 400 USD million in grants and currently manages 30 conservation projects, six of which are funded by the GEF. Funbio also works with other bi- and multilateral donors, such as the World Bank, KfW and the Moore Foundation. Funbio not only manages large grants, it also works with large private companies for territorial management. Moreover, Funbio designs innovative financial mechanisms, such as the Atlantic Forest Fund for private sector compensation. This successful mechanism is being replicated in three other Brazilian states.

The Ecofunds Database is a RedLAC project managed by Funbio, which allows donors and grantees to find easy and transparent information on conservation investments. The project was initially conceived by the Moore Foundation, which had a specific focus in the Andes-Amazon region and wanted to have clear information on investments in the region from their Foundation and other partners.

Ecofunds maps investments around the globe using a georeferrenced tool and presents information in a standard format, allowing comparisons and the generation of reports.

The advantages for donors are: Ecofunds can work a resource for decision making; it avoids redundancy in funding and allows the identification of financial gaps. For EFs, Ecofunds allows them to aggregate data; organize and present their own progress and check the activities of partner institutions.  

Joining forces: CAFE, the African funds network
Fenosoa Andriamahenina, Executive Director, presented Tany Meva, a Malagasy Fund created in 1996, which originally managed a 12 USD million endowment, currently with 16 USD million in assets and 500 active projects. These projects are Tany Meva’s contribution to the international conservation agreements: CBD, UNFCCC, UNCCD and the Millennium Goals. Tany Meva is the leader in renewable energy in Madagascar and have protected a thousand million hectares through the engagement of local communities.

In 2008, African Environmental Funds participated in a forum organized by the CFA. In 2009, AEFs assessed the seven main common topics, including strategic planning, investment policies, M&E and marketing & communication. In 2010, in Dakar, AEFs decided to create their own network. In 2011, in Dar es Salaam, the AEFs organized the 1st CAFÉ Assembly with 16 Founder Funds, occasion when the group designed its mission, vision and objectives. In 2012, in the 2nd Assembly in Uganda, CAFÉ adopted its Charter, elected the President and put an Executive Committee in place.

CAFÉ was created as a learning group to allow Funds to share best practices to pursue innovative financial mechanisms and streams for conservation and development in Africa. CAFÉ members are in different levels of development, as some members are still under creation and other are 10 years old, but all share common challenges and interests in terms of fundraising, investment, vision, etc.

Innovative financial mechanisms: crowd funding
Jose Luis Gomez, Executive Director, presented Fondo Acción, which was created 13 years ago and has directly invested 50 USD million and leveraged additional 50 USD million, in a total of 100 USD million over 13 years. The Fund manages two endowments in a total of 42 USD million and sinking funds in total of 16 USD million, providing grants for CSO and microenterprises for sustainable use of biodiversity. Fondo Acción complies with ISO 9001/2008, while also participating in public policy dialogue and capacity building of CSO. Fondo Acción had a four-year strategic plan (2009-2012), which included a focus on private sector, mainly extractive industry and also a new segment – individual philanthropy for individuals interested in socio-environmental causes.

The proposal to create an online platform was partially funded by the Grants Facility of the RedLAC Capacity Building Project as an innovative market-based financial mechanism. Donaccion is a social crowd funding platform, designed from March to November 2012.

Fondo Acción’s staff was involved in a training process to grasp new concepts and techniques. Donnacion has a social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter, etc) and also strategic partnership, such as with El Tiempo, the main publishing house in Colombia.

Questions & Answers
Participants also engaged in the presentation with their questions. Alvaro Espinel, consultant, asked if Ecofunds has a mechanism to synchronize information from partners with the database. Camila responded that while there is no automatic synchrony, Ecofunds will allow the addition of blocks of data from other systems.

Marie de Longcamp, WWF, participated in the meeting over the phone, and asked what is the breakeven for Donaccion. Jose Luis responds that the plan is to recover 50% of initial investments during the pilot phase. They expect to breakeven during the 1st granting round after the pilot phase. So far, all five causes received donations, and two are almost in 100% of donations.

Alvaro Espinel asks if RedLAC has made a platform to promote community-based ecotourism. Jose Luiz responds that the Fondo Acción has an ecotourism project in partnership with a large hotel chain in Colombia (GHL), CI and Procasur, from Chile, in which they develop learning tools and support training and travel of community organizations to meet successful ecotourism initiatives (learning route), as well as the Donnacion platform. Jose complements that a crowd funding platform can be implemented in any LAC country, depending on online payment agreements.

Donna Choi, WWF, asked about impact investment. Jose comments that impact investment is a new area and has recently been presented to the Board in their last Strategic Planning workshop and received approval to pursue the initiative. Fondo Acción is considering three options to partner with investors to achieve economic, social and environmental value of investment, while considering the risks. Dan Winterson shares the reference of “The Conservation Investment Landscape”, available in the CFA Library.



Photo credit: Josiah Townsend

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Conservation Trust Funds are simultaneously presented at brown-bag lunch and CFA webinar
Thursday, Mar 21 2013


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