Cross-Mission Learning Agenda for Conservation Enterprises
An intentional and collaborative strategy for continuous learning through all stages of the Program Cycle is essential to achieve development results. As a strategy for continuous learning, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment/Office of Forestry and Biodiversity (E3/FAB) is implementing a Biodiversity Cross-Mission Learning Program to increase the effectiveness of strategic approaches that are commonly implemented in the Agency’s biodiversity programs. This Learning Program is designed to improve understanding of the conditions under which a specific strategic approach is successful in achieving desired outcomes, and why, in order to improve USAID’s biodiversity programming.
USAID biodiversity programming has supported conservation enterprises of different types, at different scales, and involving different actors to create an economic incentive for stakeholders to reduce threats to biodiversity. Over the past two decades, a conservation enterprise approach has become a common component of many USAID biodiversity activities.
The key assumption in the general conservation enterprise development hypothesis or theory of change is that enterprises provide income and other benefits to stakeholders, such that they are motivated and able to both discontinue unsustainable activities and exclude others from unsustainable uses that result in threats to biodiversity. The theory of change for an enterprise approach to conservation may be distinguished from other approaches in that actions are focused on improving the capacity of stakeholders to generate income via an enterprise – improved income generation provides them with the motivation and ability to change behavior, as opposed to other approaches aimed at directly changing their management and use of resources (such as law enforcement or capacity building for resource management).