The CFA was established in February 2002 to encourage and enhance collaboration among institutions and organizations involved in the sustainable financing of biodiversity conservation.
Along its history, the CFA has counted on many thematic committees and working groups, such as the Business Planning Committee, the Interagency Planning Group and the Africa Working Group. Currently, the CFA is running three Working Groups: Innovative Financing Mechanisms, Protected Areas Financing and Environmental Funds (which hosts the African Environmental Funds Committee).
In its first year, the CFA organized in collaboration with The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Tanzanian Land Conservation Trust/Africa Wildlife Gorilla Foundation/Tanzania and WCS, the conference "Sustainable Financing for Conservation in Africa". Held in Arusha, Tanzania, this event was the first African forum that brought together all environmental funds operating on the continent. It offered opportunities for African funds to learn from conservation finance experts and environmental funds worldwide, as well as from each other.
The CFA inaugural meeting was held two years later, on June 2004, in Cambridge, UK. Discussions of CFA activities were structured around major three categories: information sharing and engaging with other stakeholders; capacity-building in the field of conservation finance; and increasing the availability of sustainable funding for nature conservation. The event joined several institutions, such as the African Wildlife Foundation, the CBD Secretariat, the Global Environment Facility, the International Finance Corporation, IUCN, Forest Trends, the German Government (GTZ and KfW), RedLAC, TNC, the World Bank, USAID, among others. The preliminary Plan of Action developed in the early stages of the network included three main themes: informing and engaging key constituencies; training and technical assistance and mobilizing financial resources.
On November 2005, the CFA had a meeting in the IUCN Headquarters in Gland, Switzerland. It was attended by 19 conservation finance specialists representing 13 of the member organizations. The debate revolved around the plan of action for the following years and the formation of the following working groups: Capacity Building; Advocacy and Protected Areas Finance. Also the recruitment of a CFA Coordinator was debated and their base would be the IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office in Nairobi. A Steering Committee of the CFA was created, comprised of IUCN, TNC, WWF International, UNESCO, CDC and GTZ. Moreover, Hans Friederich from IUCN was elected as the chair of the CFA for the coming two years. The membership rules and conditions were also agreed upon. Improvements in the website were required, given the relevancy of this online platform to the global network.
In June, 2006, a new meeting was organized in the International Academy for Nature Conservation (INA), in cooperation with UNEP and the Conservation Finance Alliance (CFA), financed by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
Between March and April 2009, the CFA presented the “Basic Training on Conservation Trust Funds”, which was hosted by the Table Mountain Fund in collaboration with WWF, in Cape Town, South Africa. The focus of the training was on the establishment of Environmental Funds in Africa by building institutional capacity and facilitating exchange of experience among practitioners. Representatives of Environmental Funds and related initiatives from five different African countries (Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia) participated in the training and since then have maintained regular contact through participation in the African Environmental Funds Committee.
In 2010, the CFA rebuilt its website, developing a dynamic and clean interface with its members and partners. It also developed its institutional newsletter and other important tools and studies, such as the Study on the Role of Civil Society Organizations in REDD Markets and the third edition of the Conservation Trust Fund Investment Survey (CTIS), which describes the environmental funds’ investment strategies during 2009 and establishes a reliable benchmark for these institutions.
Both reports were launched in October and presented at the 10th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan (COP-10), on a side event submitted by the CFA Secretariat, and in the CFA Booth at the Interactive fair for Biodiversity, where hard copies were distributed to visitors - see photos.
In 2010 the CFA also developed its Charter and held election to renew its Executive Committee, which is now composed by: Jennifer Morris (Director of the Ecosystem Finance Division - Conservation International), Ray Victurine (Director of Conservation Finance - Wildlife Conservation Society), Lorenzo Rosenzweig (CEO - Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature), Sylvie Goyet (General Director - Fondation Internationale du Banc d'Arguin) and Andrew Bovarnick (Lead Natural Resource Economist - United Nations Development Programme).
In 2011, the CFA launched an online database named the CFA Environmental Funds Tool Kit. It is a product of the CFA Environmental Funds Working Group in close collaboration with RedLAC. It was financially supported by Fiba, KfW and RSPB and coordinated by the CFA, RedLAC, the Mar Fund, WWF and USAID.
The Tool Kit is a public online library with real examples of documents from environmental funds around the globe. It is free, the documents are available in their original language and the navigation is very simple. The Tool Kit works as a continuously updated data base of reference documents that can be found using customized search engines. It was designed to help and guide the creation and start-up of new Environmental Funds; promote best practices for existing Funds and increase the efficiency and effectiveness to secure, and expend, reliable funding streams for biodiversity conservation.
In 2011 the CFA also supported the creation of CAFE – Consortium of African Funds for the Environment and the organization of the network’s 1st General Assembly in September in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This meeting was the culmination of three years of work of the CFA African Environmental Funds Committee and presented an opportunity to bring the Funds together into a more coherent and collaborative group and discuss important issues for their institutional and financial sustainability, joint actions and future partnerships.
This year also featured the launch of the fourth edition of the Conservation Trust Fund Investment Survey (CTIS), with information from calendar year 2010.
Moreover, the CFA welcomed expert speakers to present to the Working Groups, such as James Remuzzi, who presented a US-based web assessment tool for landowners, producers, and property managers – the LandServer. In March, the CFA organized an online thematic meeting about Impact Investments, in which participants had the chance to discuss with Geoff Moore, president of TBC Capital and CFA member, the recent trends of the market. In May, Gustavo Fonseca, Team Leader of the Natural Resources Management Team at the Global Environment Facility (the GEF), presented the news about GEF and also responded to members’ questions and in July, Francis Vorhies, Executive Director of Earthmind, presented the Green Development Initiative.