Tomorrow, the closing conference of MFS-II is held. For the past five years, 67 organizations in 20 alliances have been working within the MFS-II framework to strengthen the capacity of partner organizations in developing countries. IUCN NL, together with Both ENDS and Wetlands International, represented one of these alliances. An overview of the results.

Header photo:foto: (c) Jan Joseph Stok

The Ecosystem Alliance was one of the greenest MFS-II alliances, based on the idea that healthy ecosystems form the basis of sustainable development. That’s why the Ecosystem Alliance worked with local communities in developing countries who often completely depend on ecosystems for their livelihood. For these poor people, nature is vital. However, due to overexploitation, expanding cities and agriculture areas, pollution and climate change, these ecosystems and its biodiversity are under increasing threat. The Ecosystem Alliance seeked to strengthen the well-being of local communities by helping them to improve their livelihoods in a sustainable manner, defend their rights and influence stakeholders at those national and international levels where decisions are taken that affect their ecosystems.

How did we succeed?

Result 1: Improved livelihoods of local communities

The Ecosystem Alliance contributed to bringing one and a half million hectares of land under sustainable management. More than 120,000 households benefit from these well-managed ecosystems that provide them with clean water, food, fuel and protection against climate change. To ensure these ecosystems remain healthy, the Ecosystem Alliance supported the local population in developing methods for sustainable land use, such as organic cocoa farmin or sustainable fishing. This will prevent land degradation.

Result 2: Greening the economy

It’s not just the local communities that depend on healthy ecosystems, they’re also vital to the economy. For example, companies use water and fertile land for agricultural production. At the same time, companies cause major damage to our natural environment. The Ecosystem Alliance successfully strengthened the capacity of partner organizations to influence the policies of businesses, resulting in 38 companies implementing or announcing sustainability measures. The program also increased knowledge of partner organizations to influence trade related policies, to lobby governments, commodity round tables and companies, and to adopt more ambitious green policies, more sustainable business models and practices. This will enable the partner organizations to continue their work on greening the economy.  

Result 3: Improved resilience to climate change

Healthy ecosystems provide protection against climate change. Marshes and mangroves provide effective coastal buffers that protect against increasingly severe floods, while forests are crucial to prevent droughts. This particularly affects the poorest people in developing countries. Since the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly visible, it is important to invest in climate adaptation and mitigation. The Ecosystem Alliance conducted 23 climate projects. The lessons learned from these projects are translated into policy recommendations, 13 of which are included in global climate agreements. Thanks to these interventions people in developing countries have become more resilient to climate change.

‘Healthy ecosystems form the basis of sustainable development’

All of the above results were achieved in close collaboration with 136 partner organizations in 16 countries. Over the course of five years, through a continuous and interactive process, the Ecosystem Alliance invested in strengthening their capacities and those of organizations in their network, reaching a total of 340 NGOs.

The most important lesson is that a strong civil society is essential in achieving good governance of ecosystems. We are proud to have strengthened the voice of civil society in decision-making processes. In our new Strategic Partnerships, which run from 2016-2020, we will continue to strengthen the capacity of partner organizations, further building on the successes achieved under the Ecosystem Alliance.

Learn more about the results and lessons of five years Ecosystem Alliance in the downloads.


Mark van der Wal
Senior Expert Ecosystems & Extractives