Description of project

In 2009 CANARI was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutes by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. CANARI is the first Caribbean organisation to be granted this Award, which was given in recognition of the Institute’s work over the previous 20 years in promoting participatory natural resource management at the local, national and regional levels across the Caribbean islands. CANARI is a research-based, non-membership, non-profit organisation which receives no recurrent core funding from government or others and its funding is primarily via grants to support specific project activities. It is therefore extremely challenging for the Institute to support the key strategic activities that contribute to an organisation’s long-term sustainability and effectiveness in achieving its mission, such as: strategic planning; strategic development of staff capacity; fund development; development and coordination of networks, partnerships and strategic alliances; and systematic evaluation of its work. CANARI used the US$350,000 Award for the strategic development of the organisation and its staff, with an emphasis on enhancing its financial and technical sustainability and communication effectiveness.


  • President of theJohn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Jonathan Fanton, said at the ceremony in 2009 awarding CANARI and seven other organisations the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutes that “These organizations may be small but their impact is tremendous… They are blazing new paths and finding fresh solutions to some of our most difficult challenges.”
  • The MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutes made a significant contribution to strengthening the Institute as it enabled CANARI to develop a results-based Strategic Plan, a Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, a Communication Strategy, and a strategy for building partnerships to seek funding, including programmatic funding. Staff strengthened their competencies in these areas and this has transformed how the Institute works and helped to increase its effectiveness and impact.

Key activities and results

  • CANARI established an endowment fund to support development and implementation of the Institute’s work under its strategic plan, including via: supporting specific programmes and/or projects; supporting delivery of specific results under the Institute’s Strategic Plan; and supporting piloting of innovative tools and methods. The Fund will also be used to support good governance and organisational development and management of the Institute to ensure strength and sustainability of operations.
  • CANARI is developing regional and international thematic or common approach partnerships as part of a strategy for accessing programmatic and framework funding. For example, CANARI established the Karipanou partnership for participatory natural resource management and governance with the Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) at the University of the West Indies and Panos Caribbean. CANARI is also partnering with leading NGOs in the Caribbean in the Nature Caribé network, which is dedicated to environmental governance, biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. CANARI is collaborating with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and researchers across the three campuses of the University of the West Indies to develop a regional programme on community climate change adaptation. CANARI is also a member of the Independent Research Forum (IRF), a collaboration of leading research institutes across the world collaborating to provide technical support to the development of a new post-2015 global sustainable development agenda.
  • CANARI undertook a self-evaluation of its work over the first 20 years and identified lessons on what have been the most significant contributions of the Institute in the region and which specific strategies have been most effective at changing policy and practice and building capacity. These lessons were fed into CANARI’s new Strategic Plan 2011-2016. (EnglishFrenchSpanish)
  • CANARI developed a new Communication Strategy to guide more effective communication about CANARI and its work. The Communication Strategy outlines how communication can best contribute to achieving the Strategic Plan desired results at several different levels: the Communication Programme; the other Programmes; organisational marketing and public relations; and the overall Strategic Plan. As part of this and to support its fundraising and partnership building, CANARI developed a brochure (EnglishFrenchSpanish) on the work of the Institute and is producing annual reports on its work (see Annual Report 2012-2013 and 2013-2014).
  • CANARI developed a Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy, which uses a combination of the logical framework and outcome mapping approaches and participatory evaluation methods. The Monitoring and Evaluation Strategy is being applied to CANARI’s work at various levels: at the strategic level, overall targeted results in the Strategic Plan 2011-2016 were set; at the programme level, results are outlines in Programme Plans (for example the Rural Livelihoods programme plan) which include priority areas for work and targeted projects for development; and at the project level, monitoring and evaluation in all of CANARI’s projects is guided by the Strategy.
  • Five CANARI staff and one Associate undertook mini-sabbaticals to build their technical competencies in key areas for CANARI’s work including communication research, monitoring and evaluation, network analysis, global biodiversity conservation, climate change and coastal and marine management, and climate change and forest governance particularly focusing on REDD+.

Recent news and blogs

Caribbean Beat article: CANARI, Yes they can


For more information, contact Nicole Leotaud, Executive Director [email protected]

See related work under CANARI’s Internal Governance and Operational Systems programme.