Protecting biodiversity with communities and the Volunteer Cooperation Program

News | Published at: December 09 2022

The 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity that is currently underway in Montreal has been a hot topic of conversation. Expectations are high for the event since the many ambitious goals set will pave the way for the next ten years. There is not much time left to halt and reverse biodiversity loss around the world.

COP15 is addressing issues that directly affect the communities supported by CECI and its projects, including its Volunteer Cooperation Program (VCP). As a result, it is the perfect opportunity for CECI to participate and contribute to conversations in various ways:

  •  Our communications advisor, Mollie Dujardin, participated in the Intersectional Environmentalism panel discussion at the COP15 Youth Summit on December 6, where she talked about the concept of Nature-based Solutions and the importance of including those that are most affected in protecting biodiversity and adapting to climate change, particularly women and minorities.
  • The hybrid event “Les communautés locales au coeur de la défense de la biodiversité” [Local communities at the heart of biodiversity protection], organized in collaboration with Crossroads International, Development and Peace, the International Secretariat for Water and AQOCI, will be held on December 16, from noon to 6 p.m., at UQAM’s Espace Génération Vivantes. Details and registration (in French only)
  • CECI, in collaboration with the University of Guelph’s Centre for Biodiversity Genomics, the World Bank and A Rocha Ghana, will present the panel “Protecting Biodiversity for Stronger Communities” on December 16 at 7 p.m. at the Canada Pavilion events space. The panel will be facilitated by a CECI advisor in environment and adaptation to climate change, and the panel's experts will discuss many topics, such as integrating biodiversity protection into poverty reduction and climate change adaptation programs in developing countries. Link to video stream (in English with simultaneous interpretation) - In-person access limited to accredited participants


Involving local communities

CECI believes that protecting biodiversity and adapting to climate change will unquestionably require the involvement and leadership of local communities, particularly women and marginalized people, given the social and economic inequality affecting them.

For example, in southern Senegal, women living in rural areas represent 70% of the agricultural workforce, but only 13% own the land they farm. They are the providers for their families, but soil erosion, the degradation of natural resources (forests, water) and biodiversity loss all threaten the economic viability of their activities, a situation exacerbated by each new crisis. Women are vital players in finding sustainable solutions that take into account their own needs, reality and traditional knowledge, while also considering the environmental requirements.

In Bolivia, volunteers have supported partner groups in running small-scale biodiversity protection pilot projects, both in the Amazon and in the Andean regions, ensuring the positive results could be replicated by developing best practice guides for family agriculture and sustainable planning methods of tourist sites. They also conducted a study on the fragility of the biodiversity in the Andean wetlands to help support local partners in their advocacy efforts to have a bill passed to protect these fragile ecosystems.

In Guatemala, a volunteer helped local partners conduct several studies to improve pest and parasite control practices. Thanks to these studies, alternative ecological farming practices have now been adopted to protect pollinators, including bees. 

CECI’s Volunteer Cooperation Program has countless examples of volunteers who have contributed directly or indirectly to the work of local partners involved in protecting biodiversity and adapting to climate change.

Consult the available positions to see how to get involved.

CECI's Voluntary Cooperation Program receives financial support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.