The extent and distribution of joint conservation-development funding in the tropics

James Reed, Johan A. Oldekop, Jos Barlow, Rachel Carmenta, Jonas Geldman, Amy Ikowitz, Sari Narulita, Syed Rahman, Josh Van Vianen, Malaika Yanou, Terry Sunderland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Despite ongoing debates about the viability of sustaining economic growth while maintaining environmental integrity, international sustainability agendas increasingly propose reconciling socio-economic development and global environmental goals. Achieving these goals is impeded by limited funding and a lack of information on where financial flows to integrate environment and development are targeted. We analyze World Bank and Global Environment Facility data to investigate the extent and distribution of such funding across the tropics. We find a misalignment between funding flows and need with highly biodiverse, low development (HBLD) countries receiving no more funding than non-HBLD countries. Countries with low biodiversity receive more funding than highly biodiverse countries and there was no statistical association between a country's development status and funds received. Rather than environment-development need, funding appears to be driven by governance and political-economic factors. Future research should investigate how such factors and funding flows are associated with conservation and development outcomes. This study analyzes 381 projects of the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) concluded between 1995 and 2013 to show how much money is spent on joint conservation and development in the tropics, where the money is directed, whether it is directed to areas of greatest environmental and development need, and finally what factors drive funding allocation decisions. The total extent of funding was US$16.5 billion across 75 countries, representing approximately US$870 million per year. Countries with high biodiversity and low human development receive no more funding for integrated conservation and development than other countries. Notably, countries with a low biodiversity status receive relatively more funding than highly biodiverse countries and there was no association between development need and funds received. Therefore, we find that neither biodiversity nor human development status explain funding allocation, but rather that governance and political-economic factors are most likely more influential. This study analyzes the extent and distribution of World Bank and GEF funding for joint conservation and development in the tropics, whether it is directed to areas of greatest environmental and development need, and finally what factors drive funding allocation decisions. Total spending was US$16.5 billion across 75 countries. We find that neither biodiversity nor HDI status are driving funding allocation, but rather that governance and political-economic factors are most likely more influential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-762
Number of pages10
JournalOne Earth
Volume3
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • biodiversity conservation
  • conservation and development finance
  • conservation and development trade-offs
  • foreign aid
  • sustainable development

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