UN Foundation Announces $6 Million for World Heritage Sites

Special Focus On Biodiversity

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

July 25, 2000


Megan Rabbitt

Meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the United Nations Foundation (UN Foundation) Board of Directors announced this week approximately $6 million in new investments to support World Heritage projects throughout the world.

“We are extremely pleased with the high-quality projects proposed by the UN and with the increasing focus on the UNF Board’s major priorities – including an important emphasis on biodiversity,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the UN Foundation. “These projects demonstrate how the UN can work in partnership with NGO’s, local and indigenous communities, and the private sector to address significant threats to biodiversity. Our Board is proud to be able to support these UN efforts on behalf of the natural wonders of the world.”

These projects are part of the Foundation’s World Heritage program – aimed at promoting conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in some of the world’s most important habitats. Ongoing UNF World Heritage projects include efforts to eliminate invasive species from the Galapagos Islands, protect biologically rich sites in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo and conserve Suriname’s unique tropical rainforests.

The Foundation, which was established to oversee administration of businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner’s historic gift in support of UN causes, has awarded more than $300 million for UN projects to date.

Brief descriptions of the World Heritage projects receiving funding in the July 2000 round are listed below.

Project Title: Linking Conservation of Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism at World Heritage Sites
Recipient: UNESCO/UNEP
Amount: $2,500,000 (including $500,000 in matching funds) over four years

This project will develop models for linking tourism with biodiversity conservation in six World Heritage sites. In each site, it will support a set of integrated activities that bring site managers, NGO’s, communities, and the private sector together in an innovative partnership arrangement, the goal of which is to generate concrete benefits for biodiversity, local communities, and the tourism industry. The six sites are Sian Ka’an and El Viscaino in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala, Rio Platano in Honduras, and Komodo and Ujung Kulon in Indonesia.

Project Title: Conserving World Natural Heritage Sites Through Effective Monitoring and Partnerships
Recipient: UNESCO
Amount: $2,000,000 over four years

Many protected areas lack an effective system for biodiversity monitoring. As a result, site managers have difficulty prioritizing actions, and donors lack good information on where to invest their resources. This project seeks to help address this challenge by piloting a model for reporting on the state of conservation and management in 10-15 World Heritage properties. The goal is to promote a more accurate and consistent approach that can be applied to other World Heritage sites and protected areas. The 10-15 sites will be concentrated primarily in South Asia and Africa.

Project Title: Conservation of Endangered Tiger and Rhinoceros in Nepal
Recipient: UNDP
Amount: $748,095 over three years

This project seeks to conserve and rehabilitate the corridor forest linking the Royal Chitwan National Park, a World Heritage site in Nepal, to the upland Himalayan forest ranges. In doing so, it will promote landscape-scale conservation of endangered species of tiger and rhinoceros. UNF funds will support activities that benefit local communities, by providing, for example, alternative livelihoods to nearly 700 families recently resettled adjacent to the corridor. Women, who are the economic mainstay for Nepali families and the primary extractors of natural resources, will be a special focus.

Project Title: World Heritage Program Development in Brazil (Planning Grant)
Agency Request: UNESCO
Amount: $76,650 over five months

This planning grant will support development of a “World Heritage Biodiversity Program for Brazil,” which will use World Heritage designations to generate public support, stimulate better management, and raise additional resources for some of Brazil’s most important protected natural areas. The planning grant will fund a dialogue between the Government of Brazil, NGOs, local communities, and other key stakeholders designed to produce a concrete program of action. The program will target sites in each of Brazil’s three major ecoregions – the Atlantic Forest, the Amazon, and the Cerrado/Pantanal. Further UNF funding would be considered to catalyze implementation of the program.

Project Title: Biodiversity Management in the Sundarbans World Heritage Sites (WHS): An Integrated Two-Country Approach in India and Bangladesh
Recipient: UNDP
Amount: $105,000 over six months

As one of the world’s most significant remaining wetlands, the Sundarbans World Heritage sites contain globally important biodiversity including the largest population of tigers left anywhere. This project seeks to develop a cross-border initiative for the conservation and management of the Sundarbans and their surrounding areas in Bangladesh and India. It will assist the two countries in shaping a common approach for these sites, including if possible, developing a joint management plan. Some of the specific activities proposed will provide alternative livelihoods and reproductive health care to the poor people living around these sites.

Project Title: Community-based Commercial Enterprise Development
Recipient: FAO
Amount: $200,000 over six months

This project aims to help conserve the biodiversity at two key World Heritage sites by supporting the development of sustainable community-based forest enterprises. The sites to be targeted – Mount Emei in China and Bwindi National Park in Uganda—have large, highly resource-dependent communities living within or around park boundaries. The project will build capacity for resource managers, strengthen local institutions and encourage development of new alliances between businesses and local organizations. UNF funds will cover the first phase of this project, with additional support possible if results are promising.


The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist R.E. Turner’s historic gift to support UN causes. The United Nations Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations and its Charter. Through its grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the United Nations Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges of the 21st century.