The Impact of International Cooperative Initiatives on Biodiversity

04-12-2017 | Publication

This scoping report looked into the potential impact of so-called ‘International Cooperative Initiatives on Biodiversity’ (ICIBs); initiatives of private, non-state actors independent of, or with, national governments and intergovernmental organisations, and how they affect biodiversity conservation and sustainable use  on the ground.

Five ICIB Case studies

Five cases were analysed: (1) Citizens’ initiatives (CIs) that contribute to private nature conservation;(2) Community forest management (CFM) that strives to improve rural livelihoods, forest conditions and forest biodiversity; (3) Landscape and forest restoration (LFR) under the Bonn challenge;(4) Re-naturing cities (RNC) for green infrastructures and biodiversity enhancement in urban areas; and(5) Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) which aim to enhance the sustainable use of natural resources through market certification schemes.

Developing and trying out a new methodology

In order to assess impact, a ‘funnel-shaped assessment framework’ consisting of three levels was developed following suggestions in the international literature to streamline impact-research on sustainability standards:(a) a number of conservation and sustainable use projects or areas realized by ICIBs (‘outcome’),(b) positive biodiversity effects in certain areas, or in increased ‘mean species abundance’ (MSA), or both (‘overall impact’), and(c) positive biodiversity effects in specific cases on the ground (‘detailed impact’).

ICIBs are very relevant for biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use

We estimate that ICIBs’ additionality in forest biodiversity impact amounts to:

  • about 40% in quantity (size of sustainable use areas with positive biodiversity impact, compared to formally protected forest areas) and;
  • about 20% in quality (increase in biodiversity/MSA compared to conventional forest management).

Reflecting on this scoping report

In hindsight, the case studies can be categorized in two different types of ICIBs. Some ICIBs are rather top-down, resembling more traditional, government-led biodiversity conservation approaches, in which higher level institutions agree on aims, methods and implementation.  Other types are more at the local  level, ranging from communities (CIs, CFM) to cities (RNC).

The study has developed and adjusted a novel framework – ‘the funnel’ – to assess the outcome and impact of ICIBs. However, this framework needs further streamlining in terms of criteria, indicators and procedures in follow-up research.