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Decentralisation  and  biodiversity management: opportunities to improve UNDP-GEF projects

06 / 02 / 2009, Eldis Biodiversity

Both decentralisation and biodiversity management approaches suggest that biodiversity conservation initiatives could benefit from decentralised processes. Yet in practice UNDP’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded biodiversity projects have not explicitly applied decentralised governance for development (DGD) approaches. Studies also indicate that decentralisation efforts have not resulted in sustainable biodiversity outcomes. This paper reviews why decentralisation and biodiversity management should be mutually reinforcing, the reasons why this has not materialised, future opportunities, and suggests some changes in UNDP-GEF funded biodiversity projects to take advantage of the opportunities.The paper suggests that biodiversity and decentralisation are interrelated and the reasons are quite obvious. Decentralisation advocates believe decentralisation leads to improved participation, which in turn leads to efficiency and equity. Biodiversity management practitioners also emphasise the need for local participation as a means of increasing management effectiveness and equity.The author says while there is currently little cooperation between UNDP’s GEF-funded biodiversity team and its DGD team, the momentum is now shifting in that direction because:

the GEF and the biodiversity community recognise the importance of framing biodiversity conservation in the context of governance frameworks
UNDP-GEF recognizes decentralization as an issue to be addressed in its biodiversity portfolio
the Poverty Environment Partnership has mounted a robust justification as to why ecosystems should be at the heart of DGD efforts to alleviate extreme poverty

GEF biodiversity projects ultimately aim to alter human choices and practices that destroy biodiversity values. They therefore need to address the sources of power (political, fiscal and administrative) driving those choices and practices. By locating the decision-making power closer to the users of the biological resources – and the victims of biological resource loss the chances of getting biodiversity positive decisions increase. This is due to the general principle that those most likely to suffer from the misuse of biological resources are those with the greatest incentive to use resource rights to prevent biodiversity loss

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