Patricia Zurita | Conservation Stewards
Fellows work to maximize the impact of their ideas through design. They work through a systematic process driven by the five elements of scalability: real impact, big bang for the buck, lasting behavior change, easy replication, and the right path to scale. Fellows participate in the program for two years, working through several design iterations.
THE IDEA: Conservation Stewards
Deals to make local people willing and able to preserve nature: an agreement of social benefits for conservation, that leave local people thriving and in control of their land
HOW IT WORKS
- Select site: high biodiversity value and capable local people
- Make a deal: via systematic, efficient process to agree on specific conservation actions in exchange for community benefits
- Secure funding: endowment or another guaranteed revenue flow
- Make it stick: systematic integration of conservation into the local economy and culture over time
- Enforce to win: cost-effective, creative monitoring of both benefits and conservation; with enforcement designed to get conservation back on track
- Scale up: engaging multiple communities in extended geographies through either political processes or extended multi- or bi -lateral financial support.
THE PERSON: Patricia Zurita
Patricia Zurita is a natural resource economist from Ecuador who moved from top-down policy to bottom-up biodiversity solutions with local people
After she was willingly brainwashed by ornithologists at college, Patricia changed course to study conservation economics. A stint with the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment convinced her that there had to be a better way, and looked for simpler, more direct ways to engage local people in conservation. She found it, but now spends far too much time in airports.
Everybody knows that biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate. What is less known is that most of the critical habitat under greatest threat is in private hands: indigenous groups, rural communities, and landowners. They are the only ones who can save it, but they are mostly poor and cannot afford to preserve a global good – biodiversity - at personal cost. Conservation economists at Conservation International (CI) recognized this and developed the idea of conservation agreements: bringing benefits to communities in an explicit deal for conservation. The Conservation Stewards Program (CSP) grew out of their efforts and uses an efficient process to produce unique agreements that leave communities thriving, in control of their own lands, and able to be the active stewards of biodiversity. There are more than 20 agreements in place - from preserving sacred forests in Tibet to saving Cambodia’s dragonfish - and many more in the planning. This replicable model has the potential to save millions of hectares of the most precious habitat.