Ten Hot Tips

... for organisational development, gender and biodiversity mainstreaming


by Stu Paterson, Marianne Carter, Helen Anthem and Pippa Howard, Fauna & Flora International


In 2019, Fauna & Flora international (FFI) supported CEPF grantees in the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot, developing their capacities in biodiversity mainstreaming, gender mainstreaming and safeguards. Together with their Kenyan partner organisation, KENVO, and with inputs from the Regional Implementation Team, FFI organised a high-level learning event where 19 participants had the space and freedom to openly explore and discuss ways of integrating gender, safeguarding and engagement with corporate and public sectors in their conservation projects as well as into their organisations.

Understanding business © Stuart Paterson/FFI

Experiences were shared between participants, facilitators and guest speakers from corporate and public sector bodies. Based on the high levels of engagement and interest in these areas, and the advances they have made during this short period, it is evident that CEPF grantees will continue working with their colleagues, peers and stakeholders to advance gender and biodiversity mainstreaming. We wanted to share 10 tips on ways of helping engage relevant stakeholders and support development of gender policies within organisations working across the hotspot.

1. Plan

The drafting of action plans can help organisations to develop, implement and monitor progress towards enhancing organisational capacity, integrating gender and mainstreaming biodiversity. We would recommend that these are developed by working groups within organisations, ideally involving senior decision-makers, who can support and advocate for firm and long-term change for policy and working practices covering these areas.

2. Be strong

Strong organisations are more resilient and better equipped to deliver their conservation outcomes. They are more likely to enable effective mainstreaming initiatives. Organisational health checks, such as the simple one found at, identify strengths and weaknesses in areas such as leadership, management, governance, monitoring and evaluation, communications and fundraising. Once development priorities are identified, organisations can use the relevant resources to help them strengthen their performance.

3. Be ready for change

Behavioural and systems change can be difficult for organisations and requires commitment from people to take action. This is what we ask in mainstreaming processes. This can be facilitated through measures such as allowing people to participate in developing a shared vision, and building networks of committed “change enablers”. However, identifying some small and low-cost actions can often make a noticeable difference to enable some quick wins, especially when budgets are tight. For example, enabling field visits for sharing learning.

Building relationships © Stuart Paterson/FFI

4. Think about gender

There is crucial need to integrating gender into development and conservation projects and this should be considered within organisations’ strategic objectives rather than being a tag-on at project level. It is important to remember that gender mainstreaming is not an end in itself – the goal is gender equality. Reaching this goal is only possible by engaging women and men and will take time and involve many small steps. Seeking the advice of local gender experts, as well as engaging dedicated or sympathetic ‘change enablers’ within the local community, will help greatly.

Three iterative stages to integrate gender into conservation projects are to:
a. Understand and examine gender-based dimensions of a place or project, in particular the barriers that prevent women from effectively participating;
b. Adapt and develop project elements and activities that take into account the pre-examined gender dimensions;
c. Adapt and develop project indicators for monitoring gender integration. At the very least, projects should disaggregate data to develop gender sensitive indicators i.e. how results differentially affect women and men; and how women and men may perceive project results differently.

5. Make the business case

When working with profit-making corporations, it is essential that the company understands its impacts and dependencies on biodiversity and that they understand how this enables them to become better companies. Helping the company make a business case for biodiversity will enable a clear understanding of the risks and impacts that might occur, and why this is important to the company’s reputation, operations and financing. Ideally, the company should commit to not harming biodiversity (and of course, the environment and communities in their area of influence).

6. Do no harm

Conservationists need to comprehend and take into account Environmental & Social Safeguards – performance requirements and standards of companies, donors and lenders – when working on development projects. CEPF’s safeguarding policies ensure that their projects “do not inadvertently cause negative impacts, either to the environment or to local people.” Opportunities exist for CSOs to engage with private and public sector stakeholders to play a role in conservation projects – either by providing technical expertise, support with advocacy, reviewing policy or acting as a broker during stakeholder consultations.

7. Apply existing standards

If working on a specific landscape or biome, where natural resources are extracted and utilised, you should identify working groups or international standards that set principles and guide companies working in this sphere. There are many of these e.g. the Responsible Jewellery Council,, Kimberley Process -, IPIECA (the global oil and gas industry association for advancing environmental and social performance) -, International Council on Mining & Metals -, Global Cement and Concrete Association, Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil -, Carbon Disclosure Project -

Developing strategies © Stuart Paterson/FFI

8. Explain benefits of conservation

Developing successful working relationships between governments and CSOs takes time and requires goodwill. A key consideration revolves around access to environmental resources e.g. benefit sharing and user rights. Similarly to working with business, CSOs need to build the case for biodiversity and help governments to understand the long-term value of biodiversity and the revenue that can be generated from intact natural areas e.g. National Parks.

9. Move from barriers to opportunities

There are many barriers and opportunities to consider when embarking on mainstreaming with the public and private sector. Some examples of barriers might be related to decision-making transparency, lack of trust, corruption, weak engagement strategies, restrictive regulations, reputational risk and political instability. Potential opportunities include increased visibility, gaining access to well-trained experts, willingness of biodiversity champions to increase engagement and increased availability of information and resources.

10. Know your partner, and speak their language

It is important to understand the wants and needs of relevant business and government stakeholders within a particular local and national context and to try and understand the technical language used by these counterparts.



BirdLife International has been running the Regional Implementation Team (RIT) for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) investment in the Eastern Afromontane Hotspot (2012 -2019). The investment is now completed and the programme closed on 31 March 2020. See the interactive map of all projects implemented under the CEPF Eastern Afromontane Hotspot programme here.

The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l'Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation. More information on the CEPF can be found at