Gland, Switzerland, 4 August 2020/IUCN: A total of six million Euros in emergency relief funding to address biodiversity conservation needs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic is being made available by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the European Commission (EC), and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). These European Union (EU) funds will be distributed through two complementary programmes managed by IUCN. They aim to alleviate the impacts of the pandemic on the management of protected areas and on threatened species.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how vulnerable conservation initiatives are to major disruptions. The pandemic has left local communities who protect wildlife struggling to make a living, and many threatened species increasingly exposed”, said Dr Bruno Oberle, IUCN Director General. “With the help of our long-standing partners, the European Commission and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, IUCN will be able to address urgent needs triggered by the pandemic while building greater resilience in the conservation sector.”
One of the programmes, the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Rapid Response Grants, managed by IUCN and supported by the OACPS and the EC, is expected to fund approximately 60 projects, with a total budget of two million Euros. The Rapid Response Grants will address negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting travel and access restrictions on the management of protected areas, while strengthening the resilience of local communities in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
H.E. Mr. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Secretary-General of the OACPS, said: “In this time of crisis, we are committed to ensuring the well-being of our citizens, especially the vulnerable members of our local communities. COVID-19 has deprived many people of their livelihoods, thereby placing natural resources and protected areas under greater threat. These Rapid Response Grants managed by BIOPAMA will provide much-needed and effective assistance to our 79 Member States to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in protected areas.”
In addition, the EC and IUCN are making a further four million Euros available as Rapid Action Grants under the IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative to help address impacts from COVID-19 on the conservation of terrestrial or freshwater species in continental Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. These grants protect threatened species against anticipated increases in poaching, as well as a risk of transmission of the disease from humans to wild animals, especially great apes. Furthermore, Rapid Action Grants also support the development of diverse alternative livelihoods for communities who depended on wildlife-based tourism.
“The BIOPAMA and Save our Species grants will provide critical and urgently needed support to local communities at the frontline of biodiversity conservation while guaranteeing the full respect of human rights. The projects will increase the resilience of local communities impacted by COVID-19 and support anti-poaching patrols in response to the risk of increased poaching incidents. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of wildlife conservation, which is essential to prevent the spreading of zoonotic diseases”, said Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.
“Biodiversity conservation will remain a priority of EU external action and a pillar for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as we move towards defining the world’s post-2020 global biodiversity ambitions. The European Commission will continue working with IUCN and all the conservation actors, including the beneficiaries of these rapid action grants, towards achieving conservation outcomes that benefit both biodiversity and society”, said Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
Protected and conserved areas are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems and protecting natural habitats, wild species and the livelihoods of local communities in all parts of the world. Travel restrictions and closures of protected areas in many countries in response to the pandemic have led to dramatic losses of income from tourism for many local communities living in or near such areas. As a result, certain communities have been forced to supplement limited food supplies from the wild, and reports of an increase in poaching and other illegal activities have emerged from multiple protected areas as conservation efforts have been halted or reduced.
For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
 Matthias Fiechter, IUCN Media Relations – Tel: +41 79 536 01 17, Email:  Ana Pisonero, European Commission Spokesperson for International Cooperation and development – Tel. +32 2 295 43 20, Email:  Karen Hackshaw, Media and Communications Officer, OACPS – Tel: +32 2 743 0617, Email:
About IUCN
IUCN is a membership Union composed of both government and civil society organisations. It harnesses the experience, resources and reach of its more than 1,400 Member organisations and the input of more than 15,000 experts. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it.
The Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) programme aims to improve the long-term conservation and sustainable use of natural resources in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in protected areas and surrounding communities. It is an initiative of the ACP Group of States financed by the European Union’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF), jointly implemented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission (JRC). Building on the first five years of activities financed by the 10th EDF (2012-2017), BIOPAMA’s second phase provides tools for data and information management, services for improving the knowledge and capacity for protected area planning and decision making, and funding opportunities for specific site-based actions.
In 2020, the BIOPAMA programme is scheduled to distribute a total of over 11 million Euros for biodiversity conservation initiatives across the ACP regions to address urgent issues faced by protected and conserved areas. This includes the two million Euros made available for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants, as well as an additional 9.4 million Euros, which have been granted to 46 different projects after an open call launched last year.
About IUCN Save Our Species
IUCN Save Our Species aims to improve the long-term survival prospects of threatened species. It also focuses on supporting the species habitats and working with the communities who share this habitat. It achieves success by funding and coordinating conservation projects into multiple initiatives across the globe. The African Wildlife initiative is a partnership between the European Union and IUCN that responds to conservation challenges facing key threatened species in sub-Saharan Africa. It delivers tangible results for species, habitats and people.
The IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife initiative, funded by the European Commission through the B4Life initiative, will grant a total of 15 million Euros from 2017 to 2024 to species conservation projects. This includes the 3 million additional Euros mobilised and earmarked for the COVID-19 emergency response.
About the European Commission
The European Commission is the European Union’s politically independent executive arm. It is alone responsible for drawing up proposals for new European legislation, and it implements the decisions of the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. The European Commission plays a key role in the design of development policy and conservation worldwide.
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About the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS)
The Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), formerly known as the ACP Group of States, is an organisation created by the original Georgetown Agreement in 1975, and subsequently revised in 2019. The OACPS’ main goals centre around the sustainable development of its Members and their gradual integration into the global economy; coordination of OCPS activities in the framework of the implementation of the existing Partnership Agreement with the European Union; consolidation of unity and solidarity among Members of the OACPS; and the establishment and strengthening of peace, security and stability in free and democratic societies.