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Taking Ape Conservation to Heart

A strategy for mainstreaming ape conservation into lending bank policies actions


R. Kormos, A. Lanjouw, C. Kormos,

H. Rainer & L. Williamson


M. Ancrenaz, A. Basabose, C. Boesch, D. Byler, C. Cipolletta, D. Chivers, L. Connell, D. Cress, L. Darby, A. Dunn, D. Greer, T. Humle, I. Imong, K. Jeffery, M. Gray, H. Kühl, D. Liswanto, E. Macfie, F. Maisels, E. Meijaard, R. Mittermeier, B. Morgan, D. Morgan, A. Nicholas, S. Nixon, J. Oates, W. Olupot, M. Rao, B. Rawson, J. Refisch, M. Robbins, D. Roe, A. Rylands, C. Sanz, J. Thompson, C. Traeholt & S. Wich


In 2012, the World Bank took the extraordinary step of requesting expert input to create a World Bank Strategy for Great Apes. The resulting document presents a strategy and role for lending banks to contribute to the protection of great apes and gibbons and their habitat. It argues that focusing on ape habitats and using apes as flagship and umbrella species for conservation can be an effective way of protecting ecosystems that are critical to sustaining human livelihoods over the long term. It emphasizes that protection of apes and ape habitat contributes not only to supporting but also to enhancing livelihoods and the well-being of people. The document is a strategy for addressing ape conservation in a landscape context and presents ways in which ape conservation can be mainstreamed, implemented and operationalized within government, private sector and development planning, activities and policies. The aim is not only to prevent the decline of apes around the world but also to reverse it. While this document is addressed to the World Bank specifically, the concerns, ideas and solutions within it apply to all financial institutions who lend funds to projects in ape habitat.

The scope of the strategy covers both African apes (bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas) and Asian apes (gibbons and orangutans). The document underwent extensive peer-review by representatives of the ape conservation community. Taking ape conservation to heart: A strategy for mainstreaming ape conservation into World Bank Group policies and actions was presented to the World Bank in 2015, accompanied by a video sent by Jane Goodall to introduce the strategy. Due to internal structural and leadership changes, the strategy was not adopted as an “official” World Bank document. Nonetheless, several of the recommendations formulated have been taken on board by the World Bank.

In particular, there has been movement towards aggregation of biodiversity offsets with the funding of a national strategy for offsets by the World Bank in Liberia. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) – the private lending branch of the World Bank Group – has worked with the government of Guinea and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation to support creation of a new national park with funding from two mining companies to compensate for damage to chimpanzee habitat elsewhere in Guinea. Importantly, the IFC has incorporated new wording into the Guidance Note for Performance Standard Six (see above).

The addition of this requirement has already increased partnership and collaboration between the World Bank Group and the Section on Great Apes of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group. Although this document was finalized in 2015, we hope that it will continue to provide inspiration as to how lending banks can engage positively to ensure the future of our closest living relatives.

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