Nature Blog Network Future Earth: Darwin's Initiative

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Darwin's Initiative

The words
Darwin and Initiative have a certain symmetrical resonance don't you think? This is a good news story - something of which the British Government can be justly proud. Something that rises above the competitive thrust of party politics. A generator of positive action on behalf of the planet that joins UK institutions in collaborative action with others around the world.

"The Darwin Initiative assists countries that are rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) through the funding of collaborative projects which draw on UK biodiversity expertise".

Set up in the aftermath of the Rio summit as a response to the dawning realisation of what we were doing to the planet's biodiversity, the Darwin Initiative has now invested £65,350,757 in 602 projects in 145 countries since 1992. And the good news is that the more you dig into those projects the more you realise what an extremely cost-effective initiative this is. While millions, billions, trillions are being thrown around to maintain a leaky global financial infrastructure, these few millions are massaging the beating heart of the biodiversity goose that delivers diverse "ecosystem service" golden global eggs.

While apologising for that laboured metaphor, I cannot apologise for this unfettered admiration for the Darwin Initiative. Actually I have a couple of criticisms. Firstly, they spent so little on administration that the fund "over programmed" and is still catching up after a couple of lean award years. Secondly, the web site is informative but glitchy and rather governmentally boring - although if you delve into the project news you will feed your soul (I mean, of course, rational brain...!) and if you can get the Google link to work you can follow Darwin around the world this 21st Century.

Finally, its not enough. Appeal to the British Government - stop pouring multi-millions into the World Bank and other failing, greedy multi-laterals. This one works. Double, treble the funding. The good projects are there and the scheme is leanly well managed. Every pound you can spare from development or environmental budgets will return a fantastic investment in our future. Where else would you put it? How about transferring to the Darwin Initiative anything you can recoup from inflated pension funds of failed bankers?

Meanwhile, join the floating classroom in Ha Long Bay...

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