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Conservation Finance for Islands

Session Replay



Emphasis has been put on protecting natural areas as a way of protecting resources, biodiversity and mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis. However, finance is scarce within the conservation field, and funding must be made available for such projects to be successfully implemented and maintained.


Blue Economy Manager, Waitt Institute

Asia Williams

CEO, Caribbean Biodiversity Fund

Karen McDonald Gayle

Karen has over 20 years of experience in the Jamaican and Caribbean environmental field which have given her vast experience in both Public Sector Policy Development as well as civil society dialogue and participation. She is a founding member of the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals and has proudly served on the Board of Directors of the Natural History Society of Jamaica, Campion College Alumni Association and Jamaicans for Justice. Her professional work has focussed on community environmental management throughout the region including as the Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica’s largest NGO grant-making institution.

She was the Conservation Finance Program Manager for the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund where she played a critical role in the coordination and technical support to the National Conservation Trust Funds. As the Funds and the Conservation Finance Program grows, this included support for Governance, Sustainable Finance Mechanisms, and Effective Grantmaking.

She is now the Chief Executive Officer for the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund where she oversees operations and development of new initiatives.

Managing Director, Enduring Earth

Zdenka Piskulich

Zdenka Piskulich is the Managing Director for Enduring Earth. Enduring Earth is an ambitious collaboration to accelerate and strengthen conservation worldwide through broad-based partnerships, permanent funding and local leadership. Together, we’re building a more sustainable, prosperous future for people and planet.

Before joining the Enduring Earth team, Zdenka led Forever Costa Rica since 2010 and is President of the Latin America and Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds since 2019. She is also the chair of the Conservation Finance Alliance’s Environmental Funds Working Group since 2019. Previously, she worked at The Nature Conservancy for over thirteen years as Director of the Costa Rica Program and formerly as the Director of the International Private Lands Initiative. She also worked as Executive Coordinator for the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center, CEDARENA.

As an environmental lawyer, she has helped develop and promote policy tools such as conservation easements and financial incentives for conservation throughout Latin America. She has also led several fundraising campaigns, including the $25 million Osa Campaign, and has been instrumental in the negotiation of two debt for nature swaps for Costa Rica, which total $56 million. Zdenka also helped design and implement the Forever Costa Rica PFP. She has a law degree from the University of Costa Rica and an MA in International Development from the American University in Washington D.C.

Deputy Head UN Global Team, Global Fund for Coral Reefs

Yabanex Batista

With over 20 years of experience, Yabanex has focused his professional career on the interlinkages between sustainable financing for conservation and development and international environmental policy. He has extensive experience on the establishment and management of conservation trust funds and other financial mechanisms, fundraising and resources mobilization, environmental policy and negotiations, and climate change adaptation and mitigation in Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and the Pacific. Prior to joining the GFCR, he was CEO of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF), worked for GITEC/GIZ (German Government Technical Cooperation Agency) in Mexico, The Nature Conservancy’s International Government Relations Department and Europe Office, the World Bank-GEF Unit, the United States Geological Survey, and IPAM (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) in Brazil. He holds an MA in International Relations and Environmental Policy from Boston University.

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