The African continent is known for its rich biodiversity. It is home to around a fifth of all animal and plant species known on planet Earth. Sadly, climate change is threatening this diversity.
As Africa’s biodiversity is rapidly declining, the UN estimates that Africa will lose more than 50% of the birds and mammals on the continent by 2050.
In early 2021, at the One Planet Summit, world leaders convened digitally to talk about ways to fund initiatives geared at protecting biodiversity on the continent. According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, there is a massive funding gap of around $711 billion until 2030.
How Humanitarians Can Help With Biodiversity in Africa
Funding is fundamental to conserving biodiversity, but it is often sidelined. The good news is that new charity initiatives help secure capital allocated to keeping biodiversity from suffering further losses.
For centuries, philanthropic initiatives have supported a huge variety of causes, from improving educational access to helping eradicate polio. This level of support from philanthropists has to be leveraged to support biodiversity conservation and natural habitats.
Philanthropists can play a vital role in supporting underfunded industries, despite the risk involved. They can fill a gap by strategically allocating capital to give conservation projects the boost they so desperately need.
The Impact of Conflict Zones on Nature
Africa’s long history of political conflict has wreaked havoc on its natural environment. For example, the Mozambique civil war caused the Gorongosa National Park to lose as much as 90% of its wildlife. Thankfully, philanthropist Gregory Carr committed to giving $40 million over three decades. Within around ten years, Carr’s contributions helped restore the park to close to pre-war population levels.
It may not be realistic to expect charitable initiatives alone to take care of the shortfall in biodiversity conservation funding. However, philanthropists can help generate awareness of environmental issues and help shape how the rest of the world tackles these issues.
An example of how creating awareness can support green initiatives is a letter written by 11 leading UK scientists imploring grantmaking foundations and leading philanthropists to increase funding allocated to eco-friendly projects. Gentle approaches like this could be just what is needed to help offset funding gaps by creating much-needed awareness and even prompt support from governments and the public.
Reaching the Point of No Return
Biodiversity is not only vital in keeping animals and plants happy and healthy. It is also crucial for sustainable development in emerging nations. We are rapidly approaching a tipping point, after which there will be no hope for conserving our wildlife populations’ natural habitat in Africa.
Philanthropists have the potential to lead efforts in biodiversity conservation throughout Africa. Because of the challenging times ahead of us, especially in the coming decade, benevolent individuals and organizations must step up and take their role at the heart of securing conservation funding.