Hivos International

Biodiversity, Livelihoods and Poverty: Lessons learned from 8 years of development aid through the Biodiversity Fund

‘Biodiversity conservation’ to many conjures up an image of a wildlife reserve, in which rare species and fragile ecosystems are protected from human interference. While this approach has merit and is undoubtedly necessary in some situations, there are many more cases where biodiversity may be used in a sustainable way to support livelihoods, conferring benefits on both the ecosystem itself and the communities who live there.

Both Hivos and Oxfam Novib manifest the intimate link between biodiversity and poverty reduction and the two organisations are committed to ensuring that sustainable biodiversity management goes hand-in-hand with fair and equitable development. In an effort to promote pro-poor biodiversity conservation and use, an area of development work that currently receives little funding, the two organisations approached the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the idea of developing a Biodiversity Fund. The Fund was established in 2000, with a mandate to support international and
regional organisations that work to revive and expand sustainable production and marketing systems, at the same time protecting the rights and interests of farmers, fishers and collectors of non-timber forest products.

Eight years on, much has been learned from the programmes supported by the Biodiversity Fund. This publication, which is based on a formal evaluation study (AidEnvironment and Mekon Ecology, 2008), summarises the main lessons learned. The first section sets the scene by explaining the importance of biodiversity in pro-poor livelihoods development. Chapter 2 highlights what has been learned from initiatives concerned primarily with production and markets, and Chapter 3 looks at lessons emerging from relevant lobbying, advocacy and networking activities. The final section draws conclusions
and makes recommendations for future work.


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