Requirements of USAID Biodiversity Programs

The Biodiversity Code

In order to ensure that the Agency meets the intentions of legislation in support of biodiversity conservation, USAID has a “Biodiversity Code” that defines four criteria required of programs which use funds designated for biodiversity.  Each year, all biodiversity programs are reviewed for consistency with the Code.  The four criteria are:

  1. The program must have an explicit biodiversity objective; it isn’t enough to have biodiversity conservation result as a positive externality from another program;
  2. Activities must be identified based on an analysis of drivers and threats to biodiversity and a corresponding theory of change;
  3. Site-based programs must have the intent to positively impact biodiversity in biologically significant areas; and,
  4. The program must monitor indicators associated with a stated theory of change for biodiversity conservation results.

Taken together, these criteria result in conservation activities focused on the highest priority threats and places, with a clear theory of change outlining how certain interventions are expected to lead to specific conservation outcomes.  Monitoring is built into every activity to ensure each theory of change results in actual change, or gets adjusted as needed: adaptive management in action.

The Biodiversity Code represents a minimum standard of compliance, not the full articulation of conservation best practices. USAID missions and central operating units are encouraged to embrace best practices whenever possible, as articulated in the Agency’s Biodiversity Handbook.

Integrated programs that mix biodiversity funds with other funding streams, such as climate change, health, governance or food security, are permitted, but are still required to comply with the Biodiversity Code.