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Funding: The great challenge for Environmental NGOs in Chile

Funding: The great challenge for Environmental NGOs in Chile

Funding: The great challenge for Environmental NGOs in Chile

Santiago, October 13, 2016. Chile has hundreds of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) contributing to the conservation of nature. These environmental groups can contribute meaningfully to Chile’s compliance with international treaties on environmental protection, improving the quality of life for people who live in environmentally-degraded areas, promoting sustainable practices and social inclusion, etc.

But despite the important role of these NGOs and the need to establish public-private alliances for the country’s sustainable development- which includes adequate environmental governance-  these NGOs do not have adequate funding that can let them ensure long-term activities and operations in the areas they work. There are also no tax incentives that permit a greater participation of the private sector on the conservation of nature.

This past Thursday, October 6, the Second Gathering of Acción Conservación took place in Santiago, bringing together different stakeholders and organizations working on conservation projects. The aim of this meeting was to inform and discuss the common challenges faced by conservation groups.

GOVERNMENT FUNDING FOR CONSERVATION

The National Coordinator for Chile’s Environmental Protection Fund (FPA), Pablo Moreno Orb, addressed the news about changes to the FPA, highlighting the increase of one of the grant options to $30 million CHP ($45,000 USD) for grants executed over a two-year period. Among the highlights, Moreno stressed that the FPA “is the first and only grantmaking fund for environmental causes our country oversees.” These resources clearly seem insufficient to support biodiversity conservation and natural heritage, considering the high demand by communities and civil society in general throughout the country.

Regarding the allocation of resources, the FPA’s National Coordinator explained the action lines under which the fund works and the types of organizations it targets. “Any nonprofit entity that doesn’t receive ongoing support from the State can apply, and there are four types of grants: Local Environmental Management, Sustainable Projects, Grants for Environmental Indigenous Protection and Management, and School Recycling. These grants award amounts ranging from four to 30 million pesos ($6,000-$45,000 USD).”

PRIVATE COMMITMENTS TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Considering all government resources available through the FPA (Environmental Protection Fund), plus a few related programs of the Ministry of Housing and Chile’s indigenous ministry (CONADI), funding for environmental groups in Chile is not enough. Private commitments to the conservation of our environment are therefore vital when it comes to allocating resources to projects for this purpose.

In this context, Rafael Olavarria, Director of Marketing for Patagonia Chile, spoke about the company’s Environmental Grants Program, which since 1985 has donated 1% of its sales to support groups working at the first line of defense of environmental protection. To date they have funded more than 15 environmental organizations in Chile, delivering a total of $150,000 USD to organizations whose purpose is environmental protection. “We look for organizations focusing on advocacy and addressing the root of the problem,” Olavarria said at the event.

The event also showcased the work of Chilean NGO Reforestamos Patagonia as a successful case of private sector fundraising. Cristobal Rebolledo, Commercial Director for Reforestemos Patagonia, talked about how they are accessing resources through marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The financial model he unveiled highlights actions the organization has taken to generate income, ranging from partnering with companies and proposing marketing strategies to working with “familiar faces” when disseminating their work.

MOVING TOWARDS A UNIFIED DONATIONS LAW

Within the legal sector, a pending task is creating a framework to increase incentives for private contributions destined for conservation. At the event, Chilean attorney Roberto Peralta provided context and described the challenges of the draft Unified Donations Law, which was submitted to Congress in 2014 but has not seen progress in advancing.

This bill aims to resolve the variations and complexity of regulations that provide tax benefits for public purposes, which today are discriminatory and unjustifiably exclude fundamental issues like environment and health. “This bill has broad support across all political sectors, but it needs the government to grant it the political priority it deserves,” said Peralta.

THE EVENT

With an audience of 70 people representing 45 organizations, the panel of experts discussed current challenges and the tools available to groups with environmental conservation projects.

“We’re optimistic, because each day there are more and more of us working for environmental conservation and pushing for concrete changes in Chile,” said Juan Carlos Pacheco, one of the event’s organizers. “We all see the need to share best practices and meet each other.” In this manner the Second Gathering of Acción Conservación proposed various interesting recommendations that are fundamental today, not just for organizations related to conservation of the environment but also for a society that understands how the ecological crisis requires concrete action.

More information:

Organizers: MVMT, AccesoPanam, Futaleufu Riverkeeper, AreasPro, and Patagonia.

Supporters: Centro de Creación y Comunidad Infante 1415 & Revista Endémico

Web: www.facebook.com/accionconservacion

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