Location: Regional; with particular focus on the target Critical Ecosystem

Partnership Fund (CEPF) countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica,

Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

Funded by: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Amount: USD 475,000

Project Goal

To strengthen the capacity of CSOs in the islands of the Caribbean to play a larger and more effective role in biodiversity conservation.


Civil society organisations (CSOs) have a critical role to play and have already done important work in the development and implementation of conservation strategies and in increasing public awareness of the implications of loss of biodiversity. However, they are currently not effectively and equitably contributing to biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean islands in several key areas:

  • CSOs do not have an effective voice in decision-making and policy processes concerning economic development and biodiversity conservation at national, regional and international levels.
  • Few CSOs are engaged in formal or informal arrangements for participatory management of biodiversity (e.g. through co-management of protected areas) even in instances where the legal or policy framework provides for this or the capacity of the government is too weak to assure the responsibilities on its own;
  • Practical biodiversity conservation initiatives being implemented by CSOs are not always strategic, for example, drawing on and coordinated with the work of others (including other CSOs) and focusing on long- rather than short-term objectives and outcomes.
  • CSOs (including universities) are not always conducting the priority research needed to inform biodiversity management, nor are they effectively communicating the results of their research to managers of biodiversity.
  • Awareness and education programmes run by CSOs are not effectively influencing priority target audiences, especially policy makers and resource users.

Research by CANARI indicates that the fundamental barriers to equitable civil society participation in biodiversity conservation relate to both the wider institutional framework for governance and the internal capacity of CSOs. A particular challenge is that many CSOs in the Caribbean do not have the capacity to be able to access the grants available to them nor to successfully design and implement the projects. Most grant programmes are designed with complex application and reporting procedures and restrictive criteria, yet do not provide support with the application process or project management and reporting.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) will invest US$6.9 million in supporting CSOs involved in biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean and has selected CANARI to act as the Regional Implementing Team (RIT). This project will support the CEPF investment by:

  • strengthening the ability of CANARI to perform the RIT role and strategically link this with its other work;
  • helping to build the capacity of CSOs to design relevant projects, successfully apply for CEPF and other grants, effectively and efficiently implement projects, and share lessons learnt.


The project will enhance the ability of CSOs to access the CEPF and other relevant grants by building capacity in core areas such as effective development of projects, writing proposals, managing projects, project monitoring and evaluation, and effective communication with diverse target audiences as well as their overall organisational development (including strategic planning and management, financial management and fundraising, and human resource management). The project will target organisations applying to and implementing projects under the CEPF, especially in the highest priority key biodiversity areas identified under the CEPF Ecosystem Profile.

Project Objectives

The project will build on work done and lessons learnt by CANARI under other projects, including several funded by the MacArthur Foundation, to contribute to the following objectives:

  • strengthening CANARI’s capacity to provide effective and sustained support to other CSOs through its RIT role and other work;
  • building a pool of mentors across the region to provide support for CSOs working in biodiversity conservation;
  • facilitating effective and sustained networking and action learning among CSOs and with their partners, within and among countries, in order to share information and experiences and foster collaboration and coordination;
  • facilitating training workshops to build the capacity of CSOs;
  • analysing lessons on how CSOs can effectively contribute to biodiversity conservation in the Caribbean islands, including looking at enabling institutional factors and capacity needed in CSOs and how to build this;
  • disseminating lessons learnt to key target audiences at the international, regional, national and local levels (e.g. donor and technical support agencies, inter-governmental and government agencies, private sector, CSOs and resource users).

Project Activities

1. Participatory development of CANARI’s Strategic Plan 2011-2016

2. Development and application of tools for monitoring and evaluation (M+E)

3. Feasibility study and plan for developing a digital library on development and participatory natural resource management relevant to Caribbean islands

4. Developing a pool of mentors throughout the region:

5. Networking among CSOs and with their partners:

6. Training workshops for CSOs and their partners.

7. Participatory research on how to build the internal capacity of CSOs and the type(s) of institutional framework that most effectively facilitate their participation in biodiversity conservation

  • Case studies

8. Documentation and communication

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For more information, contact:Nicole Leotaud – [email protected]