Results of Assessment of International Donor Landscape in the Amazon


Efforts were made to include donor agencies that previously participated in the 2017 GBMF report and to expand the funder base, resulting in 49 total donor respondents, 96 percent of which provided survey responses via the questionnaire. (See Table 3)17. Data for donors who did not respond were collected from secondary sources as in the previous studies. See Appendix 1 for a list of donors included in the 2013-2015 study and additional notes on donors.

Table 3

Aggregate Conservation Funding by Recipient Country

Between 2013-2019, the donors included in the study invested over US$3.45 billion. Figure 1 illustrates how conservation funding has substantially increased from US$295 million in 2013 to US$653 million in 2019. Nearly all of the countries across the basin have experienced increases in funding. While Brazil continues to receive the largest amount of the overall funding, its percentage of the total funding has reduced over time from 52 percent to 42 percent. Significant increases in funding for Colombia and Guyana are, in part, related to results-based funding from REM and GRIF. Over the period, Venezuela received less than US$5 million, nearly 90 percent of which was committed prior to 2018.

Figure 1. Total Conservation Funding in the Amazon by Country by Year


Over the most recent study period from 2016 to 2019, donors invested US$2.33 billion (see Figure 2). Bilateral support remained an important source of funding with Germany and Norway providing over half of the overall funding in the region, US$611.2 million and $582.5 million, respectively. The United States contributed 6 percent of the total funding (US$136.2 million) during the 2016-2019 period, and the United Kingdom investments accounted for 3 percent (US$65.2 million).

Multilateral donors have emerged as important conservation funders. GEF financing18 accounted for 10 percent of all conservation funding during the most recent period, exceeding US$233.9 million, while the European Union (EU) and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) emerged as new top funders, contributing 6 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Figure 2. Funding in the Amazon by Donor, 2016-2019

*Funds are managed by the World Bank.

The GBMF remained a prominent conservation donor with contributions of US$132.2 million, nearly matching the investment level of the United States conservation funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) combined. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) continued to leverage significant support for the region with contributions of over US$31.3 million, and the Andes Amazon Fund (AAF), with its support from the Wyss Foundation, has emerged as a new top funder working to coalesce financing to create and support protected areas.19

The top conservation donors in the Amazon have shifted over time. Table 4 shows which donors made the largest contributions in the 2013-2015 period compared to those in the 2016-2019 study period.

Table 4

While Germany, through the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), has allocated larger sums over the study periods, it is worth noting that Norway’s conservation funding commitments as of December 2019 exceeded those of all other donors, totaling US$1.53 billion. However, this is not reflected in the list above because a portion of this total funding amount has been committed to the Amazon Fund but has not yet been awarded and thus is allocated to future years starting in 2020.

Funding by Donor Agency

A breakdown of donor contributions between the two study periods confirms the emergence of multilateral donors as an increasingly important source of conservation funding as shown in Figure 3. For the 2013-2015 period, bilateral donors made up 73 percent of the total US$1.12 billion in investments, followed by multilateral donors (13 percent), foundations (12 percent) and international NGOs (2 percent). For the 2016-2019 period, total funding increased to US$2.33 billion, of which bilateral contributions dropped to 62 percent of that total and multilateral support increased to 24 percent. Despite considerable increases in the total funding amount, private foundations kept pace, making up 11 percent of the total donations, followed by international NGOs (3 percent) and the private sector (less than 1 percent).

Figure 3. Donations in the Amazon by Donor Type, 2013-2015 and 2016-2019

Funding by Grantee

The destination of funding by primary grantee has remained relatively steady since 2013 with nearly half of all funding going to national governments. Figure 4 breaks down funding by grantee for the 2016-2019 period. It shows that 52% of the overall funding went to national governments, an increase from 47% in the previous study period. This was heavily influenced by the sizable bilateral and multilateral contributions that flowed to national governments. Often this funding is funneled down eventually to subnational government agencies, national and local NGOs, or other implementing agencies by the primary grantees.20 Of the overall funding, nearly equal amounts were directed to international and national NGOs (~15 percent) with only 6 percent going directly to sub-national or local governments as a primary grantee. Other kinds of grantees received 6 percent as well, while research and academic institutions together received only 4 percent of conservation and management funding, and the private sector accounted for 3 percent.

Figure 4. Percentage of Overall Funding in the Amazon by Primary Grantee Type, 2016-2019

Figure 5 shows bilateral and multilateral funding by grantee for the full 2013-2019 period. The breakdown of the US$2.25 billion in bilateral funding was like that of the overall funding levels with (51 percent) directed to national governments. There was a slightly higher percentage of bilateral funding directed to sub-national or local governments (12 percent) and national or local NGOs (12 percent), while 10 percent went to international NGOs, and the remaining 15 percent was divided among other, research institutes, academic institutes, and private sector/entrepreneurs. Of the US$693.7 million awarded by multilateral agencies from 2013-2019, 83 percent was directed to national governments, 7 percent to national or local NGOs, 5 percent to international NGOs, and the remaining funding to other agencies, subnational governments, research institutions, and the private sector.

Figure 5. Percentage of Bilateral and Multilateral Funding in the Amazon by Grantee, 2013-2019

Foundations and NGOs showed a very different pattern, directing funds to NGOs and other kinds of institutions with no direct initial financial support to governments (see Figure 6).21 Since 2013, foundations have allocated nearly half of their funding to international NGOs (49 percent) and national NGOs (41 percent) as primary grantees. The rest of their funding has supported conservation and sustainable management efforts led by academic institutions (4 percent) and research institutions (3 percent) and to a lesser extent the private sector, governmental, or other agencies. NGO funding, which represents funds that have been leveraged from individual fundraising, the private sector, and a limited number of other foundations, were primarily directed to national or local NGOs (51 percent), invested to support their own international NGO programs or operations (25 percent), or passed on to private sector/entrepreneurs (18 percent) or other agencies (6 percent).

Figure 6. Percentage of Foundation and NGO Funding in the Amazon by Grantee, 2013-2019

Allocations across Conservation and Sustainable Management Strategies

Previous studies have shown how donors’ primary conservation and sustainable management strategies have changed over time. During the first period (2007-2012), donors focused on legislation, policies, and law enforcement/compliance, which shifted to protected area creation, management, and finance during the second period (2013-2015). This third study period (2016-2019) reveals a donor focus on REDD+ programs and policies, protected areas creation/management, and integrated landscapes and land use planning (see Figure 7). As discussed previously, these strategies reflect donor intent, better capturing the motivation for the funding than perhaps the implementation strategies. While one donor may classify a project to advance anti-deforestation policies, such as Public Policy Development & Administration, another may consider their project as part of a REDD+ Programs and Policies strategy. Likewise, a grant that aims to strengthen Species Conservation may also overlap with efforts to improve the Creation and Management of Protected Areas.

Figure 7. Overall Funding in the Amazon by Primary Conservation Strategy, 2016-2019

The predominant strategic focus is driven largely by bilateral and multilateral investments. The classification of their projects often involves large sums and an overall strategy. Foundations, which often have smaller, more discrete projects and a greater proximity to the implementing agencies, are able to provide a greater amount of detail and breakdown of their funding strategies. Figure 8 shows primary conservation and sustainable management strategies for foundation investments between 2016-2019. One third of all foundation investments aimed to expand the creation of protected areas and improve the management of these areas. Over this period, there was also an emphasis on supporting indigenous people and lands as well as a focus on big infrastructure and projects related to commercial agriculture (e.g., supply chain).

Figure 8. Foundation Funding in the Amazon by Primary Conservation Strategy, 2016-2019