This study builds on previous work on financing in the Amazon and provides valuable new insights into funding for Amazon conservation. The analysis shows steady increases in support from 2013 to 2019, totaling more than US$3.45 million during this period. Average donations have increased considerably since the first study on this topic was conducted. In the earliest study, donations averaged US$215.2 million, and in this round, donations averaged US$582.6 million. With increased funding for Peru, Colombia, and Guyana, the relative funding for Brazil has decreased over time even though the absolute funding for Brazil increased.
As this study shows, national governments play an important role in promoting and ensuring conservation and sustainable management of the region and receive over half of the overall funding. Over half of this support from international donors is directed toward four primary strategies: REDD+ programs and policies (20 percent), the creation and management of protected areas (14 percent), integrated landscapes and land use planning (9 percent), and indigenous peoples and lands (8 percent).
The following recommendations, geared mostly toward the Amazon donor community, emerge from the study results and the process of collecting data and engaging with donors. The recommendations aim to increase the impact of this tracking work, address knowledge gaps going forward, and identify ways to open dialogue and collaboration from the study results. They are broken into two categories: (i) strategic and (ii) analytical and technical.
Facilitate donor engagement: Bring together international donors in periodic virtual/in-person meetings to increase communication and collaboration, building on the findings of the study. Current coordination efforts are often country-specific or occur as bilateral meetings among coordinating partners. Increasing donor knowledge of current programs and approaches would allow donors to improve the effectiveness of coordination efforts, pool valuable resources, and avoid potential duplication. Improved coordination will also promote greater learning and strategic planning. Periodic meetings could also allow for individual donors to share their portfolio highlights.
This engagement could be structured along thematic discussions according to specific areas of interest or funding categories. Key topics that donors prioritized during this study include:
Increasing collaboration for implementing the Leticia Pact Action Plan;
Assessing strategies and priorities for subnational vs. national funding;
Financing the management of national protected areas vs. other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs);
Aligning conservation and sustainable management funding with development efforts financed by other agencies;
Aligning grant financing more closely with reimbursable investments (loans) by national and/or subnational governments.
Promote donor-government dialogue: Facilitate discussions among donors and relevant governmental agencies to address the above issues and bring the voices and perspectives from the recipient community to promote coordination and better funding practices. The dialogues should build on existing processes.
Source: Walter Wust (SERNANP)
Continue to track international funding for conservation and sustainable management in the Amazon: Data collection for this study took considerable time and effort and warrants being updated and continued. More unified standards would streamline data collection and reporting by donors and implementing partners. This will help to improve the quality of data available, comparative analysis, transparency, and data exchange. Partnerships between donor organizations to track and facilitate this data collection would ease the survey and response burden and ensure more timely results. Conducting this study every two to three years would provide ongoing tracking information and more frequent input for donors’ strategic planning. A follow-up survey would also provide a picture of post-COVID-19 investments and an assessment of if and how donors may have shifted their strategies in response to the pandemic. In addition, this study provides an important baseline for donor and country discussions and the mobilization of resources for the Amazon, as well as discussions regarding other national level commitments and conventions, such as the upcoming COP15.
Enhance the understanding of investments and identify gaps: More in-depth analysis would build on this series of studies. Specific analyses could consider the following:
Expanding this study to include both reimbursable and non-reimbursable investments in conservation and sustainable management efforts in the Amazon and a better understanding of the financing role of the private sector;
Comparing data collected from donors with investments made by country governments, including in-kind and annual capital, operations, and maintenance budgets;
Conducting more in-depth analysis, including an evaluation of issues such as investment impacts, benefit/cost analysis of interventions, or gaps in international donor funding across countries and interventions.
Conduct case studies to capture more detailed data on projects to deepen analysis and provide concrete examples of lessons learned: Collect quantitative and qualitative information on selected donor-funded projects, country-specific or regional findings, and unique considerations and lessons from key projects that support specific conservation and sustainable management strategies. Deep-dive case studies of selected projects would bring more lessons on best practices for effective donor cooperation, aiming to improve project outcomes in the future.
Measure the impacts of investments: In line with the above recommendation for specific case studies, the field would benefit greatly from structured and rigorous evaluations of conservation and sustainable management strategies to inform donors on the impact they have and how best to invest their money. This kind of information is not readily available and is expensive to collect. One starting point for this would be to measure the “results” that are being captured in REDD+ type of operations, especially given the growing attention these programs are receiving.
In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for nations and their populations, straining public budgets and creating significant risks for groups working on the ground. The pandemic may indeed change the funding landscape for the region going forward as donors seek to allocate scarce resources and attend to the most pressing needs in the region. This survey provides an important baseline on non-reimbursable investments for conservation across the basin. More than ever, conservation and sustainable resource management will require strategic collaboration and innovation to meet the social, economic, and environmental needs of the region and promote its green recovery.
These studies and the online data tool provide donors with a starting point for understanding investment trends and priorities within each of the countries and across the Amazon basin. It highlights how much money has been invested in each strategy. However, it is only through concerted collaboration and communication that donors will be able to pool resources and design strategies to promote synergies that advance conservation efforts and work to strengthen a more sustainable future for the Amazon and those whose lives depend on it.