The COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted many of you both personally and through its effect on your projects is an expression of the disruption of our natural systems. While a lot of effort and international attention is focused on medical prevention and treatment for COVID-19, your actions are addressing the cause of this catastrophe. You are helping to prevent future pandemics and other disasters driven by the destruction of nature. You are heroes in this story.
We offer our sympathies to those of you who have suffered from COVID-19 or who have loved ones or coworkers who have been infected. CEPF was saddened to learn from a recent survey of our grantees that of 133 survey participants, 22 reported their organization had experienced the death or incapacity of staff and/or consultants due to COVID-19 infection. Our hearts go out to those who have lost friends and loved ones.
You have shown remarkable resilience in adapting to the needs and limitations of this moment, continuing work while avoiding unnecessary risks, and in some cases providing humanitarian aid to your communities. You manage to do this under difficult circumstances. Seventy-one percent of survey participants said the operating context for conservation has worsened during the pandemic.
Even more concerning was learning that nearly half of the grantees who responded believe the pandemic has undermined the long-term viability of their organizations. Additionally, many grantees have experienced cancellation and/or delays of more than three months in their CEPF-funded project deliverables.
By adjusting timelines, deliverables and payments, CEPF is staying as flexible as it can to ensure your projects and organizations get through this difficult time. We are facing these challenges together, and we applaud your perseverance and creativity in the face of this global calamity.
On a brighter note, the survey also showed the experience of grantees during the pandemic has varied widely, and in some cases it has provided opportunities for conservation or improved conditions for conservation.
The fortitude of civil society groups like yours is critical to reducing the risk of zoonotic diseases. We value you and see you as the foundation of biodiversity conservation, and, therefore, absolutely essential to the future of the planet.
Thank you for all you do. Please continue to stay safe and be reassured that we will continue to stand with you. And we wish you, your families, friends and communities a productive and healthy 2021.