Identifying Conservation Needs
Synchronicity Earth analyses gaps in conservation action and funding, building a picture of the regions, species and ecosystems where targeted funding and support could have the greatest impact.
We work to identify critical threats in some of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, focusing on interventions that can help to prevent species loss and ecosystem collapse. This often means funding and supporting smaller, local groups working on overlooked and underfunded conservation challenges.
To do this we have built a knowledge network comprising expert scientific advisors from some of the world’s leading universities, larger national and international conservation NGOs, the IUCN (the world’s largest and most diverse environmental network), civil society groups and think tanks.
“Synchronicity Earth is one of very few organisations prepared to support those vitally important conservation efforts that don’t necessarily grab the headlines. This approach is proving to be a lifeline to the important work of conservation organisations and projects which might not otherwise be funded.”
Dr William Darwall, Head, IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit
Coordinating Conservation Action
“Today’s problems are not simple single issues with obvious solutions, they are complex interwoven challenges that need connected thinking if we are to address them adequately. Synchronicity Earth is one of the few organisations taking the broad view, with sufficient ambition in scope and purpose to really make a difference.”
Dr Jerome Lewis, Lecturer in Social Anthropology, UCL Anthropology, University College London
Our programmes are developed to address regional, species or ecosystem-based conservation challenges that our research shows do not get the attention or funding they need. By understanding who is working on an issue, how it is funded and working to coordinate action we can avoid some of the most common obstacles to effective conservation: short-term project cycles and lack of follow-up; duplication of work; onerous reporting requirements and lack of strategic oversight.
This approach is driven by our research process and informed by our expert scientific advisors and relationships with front-line conservationists. Unlike many larger conservation organisations, we do not run projects. Instead, our philanthropic funding model gives us independence and capacity for ongoing research and evaluation, helping us create new programmes which bring together influential stakeholders, including funders. Collaborative approaches can unlock potential for greater conservation impact in some of the most diverse and threatened wild places on Earth.
Where existing alliances are already helping to coordinate action, our goal is to bolster their work and explore options to increase funding and amplify their impact.
Better Funding for Conservation
We explore a range of funding approaches that suit the development of long-term, collaborative conservation programmes. Understanding the needs of the scientists, NGOs and other groups and alliances working on the frontline in challenging environments helps us to provide funding that empowers them to build their capacity, develop their interventions over time and commit to work that is backed up by research and has proven impact.
With our Programmes we are increasing the amount of ‘pooled funding’ we provide. By bringing foundations and other funders together to fund a coherent programme including a range of partners, we minimise the reporting burden for smaller NGOs and can share resources and knowledge more effectively to increase the impact of our partners’ work.
Financial expertise among members of our Board puts us in a strong position to explore alternative funding approaches. For example, we have developed ‘expendable endowments’ which guarantee long-term funding but also allow capital from the fund to be spent when the need is greatest. Being linked in to the finance and investment community, we develop solutions for businesses that want to have a more positive environmental impact but are not sure how.
“We need new solutions to identify and support critical projects on the cutting edge of saving the planet’s habitats and species. Synchronicity Earth’s vision and energy are leading the way.”
Professor William Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Supporting donors to give better
“Knowing where best to donate funds to protect the world’s species and ecosystems can be complicated, but Synchronicity Earth makes this easy by conducting high quality research to identify robust initiatives that will have the biggest impact.”
Professor Jonathan Baillie, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President, Grants, National Geographic
For donors and foundations seeking to conserve the world’s wildlife and wild places, knowing who and what to fund can be akin to blindly sticking a pin in a world map. There are countless worthy causes, numerous projects which appear to be doing good work and a seemingly endless parade of iconic species on the brink of extinction and in need of funding.
Synchronicity Earth’s research over the past 8 years has focused on identifying conservation gaps that need filling. Our research team looked at the most biodiverse places on the planet, undertook sector mapping to understand which organisations were active and the amount of funding directed towards them. Though impossible to fully map all conservation groups and all funders active in any one region or ecosystem type, this process helped to build up a picture of where the gaps were and where our focus should be.
One of the persistent challenges for funding conservation in the places that need it most, is the fact that the lion’s share of environmental philanthropy is directed towards domestic issues. UK environmental funders tend to prioritise UK wildlife and wild places, in the US the pattern is the same. Of the small percentage of funding that goes to the tropical regions of the Earth – the most diverse and often most threatened places on Earth – the majority goes to a handful of large conservation organisations, and is earmarked for work on the most well-known and iconic species, or those natural terrestrial and marine environments that are most familiar – the Amazon rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef.
The roots of threats to species and pressures on natural systems in areas where we support conservation extend far and deep. We are all connected to and responsible for the natural world, both on a local and a global scale. We find creative and playful ways to convey a more immediate sense of our place in the natural world to a wider audience, wherever they live.
Conserving nature and understanding how healthy ecosystems and biodiversity are the foundation of our ability to survive and thrive on Earth should not simply be the preserve of scientists and NGOs. As more and more research shows plummeting species populations, a burgeoning extinction crisis and destruction and degradation of ecosystems on an unprecedented scale, it is more important than ever to understand our role in this, and bring greater awareness of how connected we are to nature on a global level, not just in our own backyards.
We bring together people who care about species, incredible natural landscapes, healthy air, soil and water: people who want to do something to help but maybe do not know how.
“Synchronicity Earth communicates on a level that is really embedded within science, but that uses art, entertainment, humour, passion to get people to realise that we are all connected and that what we do to nature, we do to ourselves. You want to get behind organisations that leave the planet in a better place; and Synchronicity Earth really ranks high on that score.”
Sylvia Earle, Marine Explorer and founder of Mission Blue