Message from the Chairperson
“The energy, knowledge and commitment these organizations can bring to the cause are powerful, and it is important to take the steps necessary to make the most of this resource.”
Partnering for stronger conservation leadership
Civil society organizations in the biodiversity hotspots are the heart of the CEPF model of conservation. CEPF supports them to both deliver biodiversity conservation and strengthen their organizations, as they represent the future of healthy biodiversity, ecosystems and communities in their regions.
The way civil society groups organize themselves—including CEPF itself—is essential to their ability to deliver conservation results on the ground. One of the reasons I accepted the role of chairperson of CEPF’s Donor Council was my strong support of CEPF’s commitment to identify and engage with local civil society organizations and give them the means to protect the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
CEPF takes governance issues very seriously as it evaluates potential grantee organizations, seeking to ensure that they have the appropriate capacity to carry out their agreed tasks, and helping them build needed abilities. Keys to strong organizations include hiring the highest level of technical staff members and choosing individuals for boards of directors who are willing and able to play an appropriate strategic role that helps ensure the agreed work program is carried out. These elements enable organizations to deliver results in a high-quality, transparent, robust and timely manner. If the organizations working with CEPF have challenges with any governance issues, CEPF is ready to come to their assistance to improve matters and achieve the desired outcomes.
An Example from Madagascar
In June of 2018, I was pleased to participate in such a mission to Madagascar-based Tany Meva, the organization selected to be the regional implementation team working with CEPF to oversee the investment in the Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands Biodiversity Hotspot. We had fruitful conversations with newly appointed Executive Director Claude Fanohiza as well as the members of the Tany Meva board. We reviewed the different responsibilities of the board, the director and the staff in order to achieve complementarity, empower the executive branch of the organization and avoid duplications. These are challenges that all organizations face, and Tany Meva’s courage in addressing them with us is, in my view, admirable.
The trip to Madagascar also gave me a chance to meet with several of CEPF’s partners in the country and gain a better understanding of the importance of the conservation challenge that Madagascar is facing. I came away impressed by their work and their collaboration with each other to resolve common problems.
Tapping the Potential of Local Civil Society
There is, of course, risk inherent in CEPF’s choice to work with local civil society organizations in the countries of the biodiversity hotspots. Many CEPF grantee organizations are in the early stages of development or are experiencing growing pains as they seek to take on a larger role in conservation. But this is also where the greatest opportunity lies for those seeking to improve biodiversity conservation around the globe. The energy, knowledge and commitment these organizations can bring to the cause are powerful, and it is important to take the steps necessary to make the most of this resource. Empowered and capable local organizations are also essential in the context of successful implementation of the long-term conservation vision pursued by CEPF in every biodiversity hotspot where it invests.
The CEPF partnership of grantees, regional implementation teams, donors and staff is building the future of the biodiversity hotspots. All the partners are putting their resources, time and talents on the line to achieve a vision that we agree is wonderful, challenging and urgently needed.
— Julia Marton-Lefèvre, CEPF Donor Council chairperson, CEPF Donor Council Chairperson
Julia Marton-Lefèvre © Julia Marton-Lefèvre
The Tany Meva team and CEPF staff pictured with Julia Marton-Lefèvre. © O. Langrand
Scientists with Madagascar-based organization Association Vahatra working on a biological inventory at Masoala National Park. © Association Vahatra/Image by Voahangy Soarimalala