The most effective conservation policy is enforced by the governments that write it. But environmental challenges frequently know no borders. Rivers flow downstream, weather patters track east, pollution can spread across most any natural boundary. The CCN is working to ensure that countries communicate with each other about their conservation priorities and, when appropriate, work together to address those priorities. Whether it means establishing transnational parks, negotiation water usage rights, or collaborating on capacity-building initiatives, transnational conservation is about getting policymakers and policy-implementers on the same page, working across and beyond borders.
The United States, with the benefit of some of the world’s largest and oldest agriculture, natural resource and wildlife agencies, is singularly situated to share its experiences and expertise in assisting willing nations to build their national institutional capacities according to their own particular brand of conservation and economic development.
The growing economic prosperity and path toward sustained growth in developing countries present a rare opportunity to integrate wildlife and resource conservation with efforts to improve human livelihoods. A key component of a nation’s ability to avail of this opportunity is the strength and resilience of its institutional capacity, i.e., its laws and policies and governance of public and private institutions and civil society. It is imperative that these nations receive dedicated and sustained assistance in building an institutional infrastructure capable of tackling the challenges of competing interests, mitigating outside threats, and matching wildlife conservation objectives with economic opportunities for human communities.
A committed effort to develop institution capacity would require dedicated and sustained technical assistance in reviewing laws, policies, institutions, programs, in training personnel, and in recommending improvements where appropriate.
We envision many opportunities for partner nations to interact with the best environmental NGOs and multinational corporations interested in conservation and sustainability through market-oriented solutions. Member nations will bring their own ideas and expertise to the collaboration, facilitating development of consensus on critical issues of conservation and natural resource management.
The Conservation Council of Nations will target countries in developing nations to assist in forming conservation caucuses within their legislatures, guided by the model of the U.S. House and Senate ICCs and the ICCs forming in other countries. The new ICCs will be encouraged to draw participants from all parties represented in the legislature. To fuel the educational field mission component of mentoring, ICCF will partner with NGOs conducting conservation work on the ground in key countries.
Additionally, we envision an ever-expanding network of policy-makers based on the development of personal friendships, mentorships, and cooperative endeavors. Many U.S. Representatives and Senators are involved in inter-parliamentary mentorship. Active ICC mentors include Representatives in leading positions on the House Africa Subcommittee, Asia Subcommittee, Natural Resources Committee, and Appropriations Committee. These ICC members are highly responsive to ICCF requests to meet with visiting diplomats, and also host foreign delegations and request resources for formal missions. ICC mentors will engage in productive dialogue with U.S. Presidential Administration officials, including Cabinet Secretaries, ambassadors, and top officials of GEF, the World Bank, Millennium Challenge Corporation, and other international organizations, as well as leaders of NGOs and corporations partnering with ICCF. We shall encourage our counterparts in parliaments of Conservation Council of Nations partner countries to undertake similar levels of cooperation from their respective governments.
Knowledge and Resource Sharing
While the conservation concerns of every country are unique, transnational issues, similar ecosystems, and shared natural resources priorities provide a strong basis of common ground on which policymakers from around the world can share knowledge. Strong communication networks between legislators, executive officials, corporate and NGO leaders, and conservation experts will provide the framework in which the exchange of ideas and resources can take place.
Moreover, the CCN will design specific programming to allow the dissemination of knowledge across borders. It will seek to integrate foreign leaders into ICCF field missions involving U.S. Representatives and Senators and other policy leaders and high-level staff, and reciprocally help foreign leaders to participate in and inform U.S. policymakers through ICCF’s Congressional Briefing Series. Field conservation activities will be used as “living classrooms” from which participants will return to their countries in a strong position to discuss conservation problems and solutions with their legislative and executive branch colleagues. Furthermore, as these missions offer an opportunity for policymakers from different parties and regions to develop personal bonds, the educational field missions will promote constructive long-term relationships to generate important conservation benefits.
We intend to design missions (technicians, policymakers, corporate leaders, and conservationists) to visit partner nations to witness conservation work there, build relationships, and allow the delegations the chance to explore additional opportunities for partnership in the region and beyond. We further intend to host missions from partner nations to Washington and to design programs in Washington specific to partner nations and their environmental policies and programs.