|What do we do?|
We provide specialised support services and expertise aimed at adding value and filling gaps in existing capacity. Specialising enables us to keep abreast with emerging international best practice, and to continually build our hands-on skills and practical experience. We are continually striving to introduce new approaches and methodologies that respond to rapidly changing realities, and we are always keen to work with our customers to explore new opportunities and directions. Our four main current areas of expertise are outlined below.
Conservation planning that empowers stakeholders
Planning for conservation - whether it be for an ecosystem or natural landscape, a national park or a community wildlife area - is a vital yet underutilised tool for achieving the delicate balance between preservation and use of an area’s natural resources. At CDC, we believe that planning provides the means to build stakeholder consensus around the conservation and development goals of an area, and to overcome sometimes divergent and conflicting needs. We also believe that management plans not only provide a vital framework for the long-term management of a conservation area, but can also be used by stakeholders as a yardstick to measure progress. All our plans are developed using participatory planning techniques which allow stakeholders to contribute fully to their development. They have a simple logical structure which keeps technical language to the minimum to ensure the plans are easy to understand and straightforward to implement.
Designing conservation projects that achieve impact
We believe that good project design is essential for achieving tangible and lasting conservation impacts. Crucially, this requires building an understanding of the underlying processes that lead to the unsustainable use of natural resources, and how these processes can be influenced and reversed. The project’s stakeholders are best placed to provide this knowledge, and we therefore emphasise participatory project planning wherever feasible. To further our understanding and contribution to effective design of conservation interventions, we have also built up strong skills in participatory evaluation of a wide range of conservation projects, both as evaluation team leaders as well as in more specialist capacities. Recently, we have also collaborated with the Global Environment Facility in a ground-breaking initiative designed to test a new approach to understanding how conservation interventions achieve impact, based on modeling the underlying theory of change. This understanding will ultimately contribute to better conservation project design.
Harnessing conservation solutions to development challenges
Across Africa, there is a growing disparity between the livelihood needs of a rapidly expanding human population and the conservation needs of Africa’s outstanding but increasingly vulnerable biodiversity and habitats. CDC understands that finding a long-term balance in the interaction between people and the environment is crucial for both conservation and human development. Our work in this area focuses on understanding the underlying socio-economic causes of unsustainable natural resource use, and developing innovative practical solutions at the policy, institutional and grassroots levels, designed to reverse negative trends and achieve sustainability. Recently, we have begun to explore the interconnections between lack of sustainability and deteriorating livelihoods, and insecurity and conflict. These vicious circles are becoming entrenched and intractable in many parts of Africa, especially arid lands, and are set to worsen with the unfolding impacts of climate change.
Institutional capacity and finance: the foundations of success
Even the best laid plans and projects will have little impact if the responsible institutions have neither the capacity, skills or finances to implement and sustain them. CDC’s approach is to help build the capacity of our customers wherever possible by ensuring that we provide them with the means to produce the product themselves, not just a standalone solution. We also provide a variety of practical institutional development support services drawing wherever possible on best practice from the business world. Our services in this area include institutional assessment, business planning, and establishing financial management systems, as well as developing sustainable funding mechanisms, such as environmental trust funds.