Good news from the South: Biodiversity mainstreaming - A paradigm shift in conservation?
Bad governance stifles everything' said ecologist Richard Cowling, a pioneer in promoting mainstreaming approaches to conserving biodiversity. Cowling was addressing an international workshop convened in Cape Town in October 2013 to review progress in the impressive body of 327 projects in 135 countries supported since the late 1990s by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). With over USD1.6 billion invested by the GEF, and USD5.6 billion in co-financing by partners, the mainstreaming agenda is one of the largest biodiversity initiatives on record. A whopping 48% of these funds went to the 10 countries that hold most of the world's biodiversity treasure troves - Brazil, India, China, Mexico, South Africa, Colombia, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Vietnam and Argentina.
The obvious reciprocal to bad governance - good governance - certainly holds true, and is demonstrated by the success of mainstreaming projects in post-apartheid South Africa and in that icon of democratic good governance, Costa Rica. These two countries lead the world in innovative approaches to biodiversity conservation, most especially in moving from the traditional 'protected areas' model to an integrated landscape paradigm. The emerging trends and the challenges to the successful implementation of mainstreaming are considered here.