On May 21, 2014, the government of Brazil and multiple public and private funders signed a deal that commits $215 million to help secure the durability of the world’s largest system of tropical forest protected areas. This single closing involved actions, funding, and commitments from organizations in both the public and private sectors, within Brazil and internationally, to achieve an ambitious vision for large-scale conservation—and it underscored the power of collective impact.
What does it take to secure the largest conservation deal in history? A big idea; unprecedented collaboration between governments, NGOs, and funders; and a financing model imported from Wall Street.
The Amazon Region Protected Areas (ARPA)
program was the idea. Its goal: to protect 60 million hectares of the Brazilian Amazon—an area one-and-a-half times the size of California—in perpetuity. Now, after 16 years of fundraising, planning, and securing vast expanses of land for conservation, a plan is in place to make that idea a reality.
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Larry Linden is founder and trustee of the Linden Trust for Conservation, a board member of WWF, and a former partner at Goldman Sachs.
Guillermo Castilleja is chief program officer for the Environmental Conservation Program at the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (@MooreEnviro). Both of them have been involved in ARPA for more than a decade.