The Margaret A. Cargill Foundation has a broad portfolio of programs reaching across multiple disciplines and around the globe. Although its scope is large, the foundation's strategy is to focus on a limited number of places at a time — working with specific local communities to build conservation capacity. One of the foundation's earlier projects includes the Sunda-Banda Seascape in eastern Indonesia, where the initial focus has been on collaborative management and stakeholder outreach. (See Margaret Cargill Foundation: Grants for Marine and River Conservation).
The Sunda-Banda Seascape covers 600,000 square miles and hundreds of small islands within Southeast Asia's Coral Triangle. An area of significant biodiversity, the Coral Triangle is home to 76% of known coral species, more than 3,000 fish species, and populations of sea turtles, whales, and sharks. The communities within the Sunda-Banda rely heavily on the seascape for their livelihoods, yet these resources are threatened due to overfishing, destructive fishing methods, and loss of habitat caused by coastal development. Runoff also is a growing issue as development, agriculture, logging, and mining increase on land.
The Cargill Foundation's approach to the Sunda-Banda is to strengthen and expand networks of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and improve fisheries management within and outside of those MPAs. The foundation plans to support its efforts through effective outreach and community building, focusing on capacity building and strengthening civil society. In 2012, the foundation supported a workshop bringing together Indonesian government officials, local-level NGOs, academics, and other stakeholders to foster collaborative management in the area. In 2013, the Cargill Foundation partnered with organizations hosting the 1st Sunda-Banda Capacity Building and Outreach Coordination Meeting. (Read Cargill Environment Program Director Alan Holt's IP profile.)
The Cargill Foundation also acknowledges the importance of effective monitoring and evaluating systems in its strategic approach. The foundation states that it will use both biophysical and socioeconomic measures to evaluate success. In 2013, the Sunda-Banda Seascape Monitoring and Evaluation Meeting was held to establish guidelines and protocols.
The Cargill Foundation appears to be following its strategy of community-based conservation. The foundation will likely continue to bring together stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to build new partnerships and work on the most pressing conservation issues of the day.