In its latest round of funding, the United Nations Foundation supported the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) efforts to strengthen biodiversity conservation in India’s protected areas. The “World Heritage Planning Grant for India” will bring together government officials, civil society and the protected area management community to develop a World Heritage initiative in India.”
The UN Foundation is proud to contribute to the long-term conservation of India’s unique biodiversity through this planning grant,” said Timothy E. Wirth, President of the UN Foundation. “The region’s top conservationists – both private and public – will come together to develop a conservation strategy around existing Indian World Heritage sites to build political and public support for protected area management throughout the country.”
India has five existing World Heritage biodiversity sites: Kaziranga and Manas National Parks in Assam; Keoladeo in Rajasthan; Sundarbans in West Bengal; and Nanda Devi in Uttar Pradesh. Several additional areas merit inscription, including the Eastern Himalayas and the Western Ghats. These reserves are some of the most notable in the country and harbor a wide range of fauna and flora. Through the UNF planning grant, Indian NGOs will work to nominate a cluster of protected tiger habitats as the “Tiger Heritage of India.”
Upon completion of the planning phase, UNESCO will submit a full project proposal for implementation of the conservation strategy. UNF has previously funded planning grants similar to the India initiative resulting in full project proposals totaling $3.39 million. For example, UNF is supporting UNESCO efforts to conserve Madagascar’s tropical forest biodiversity, and UN Development Programme (UNDP) plans to implement protection measures for the Cardamom Mountains of Cambodia to achieve World Heritage status.
Last year, the UN Foundation approved a grant supporting UNDP efforts to develop a joint conservation program with India and Bangladesh for the Sundarbans wetlands. For the first time, the two countries will come together to develop and promote cross-border partnerships in biodiversity conservation of their respective Sundarbans World Heritage Sites.
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.