Interview with Dr. Heike Henn

Date: August 19, 2022

Meet the new chair of LLF’s supervisory board

Dr. Heike Henn is Director for Climate, Energy and Environment at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Heike is the new chair of LLF’s supervisory board. She has almost 30 years of experience in development policy, including nearly two decades at BMZ.

Dr. Heike Henn

You are the newly appointed chair of LLF’s supervisory board. What are your expectations of this position?

I am really excited about this new role of mine, as I think LLF is an innovative answer to one of the key questions of our time: safeguarding biodiversity. I am looking forward to the discussions within the board on how we can jointly advance and develop this instrument which is still new.

What significance does LLF have for Germany’s international biodiversity goals?

The German government strongly supports the 30×30 goal, which aims for 30 per cent of the earth’s surface to be put under protection and/or sustainable management while respecting the rights of local and indigenous communities. We hope that the COP15 on biodiversity taking place this year will commit itself to that objective. LLF is an important financial contribution towards that goal.

Will this constitute the most important German contribution to the biodiversity crisis?

I think that LLF has to be combined with many other instruments. It is without doubt important, as it protects some of the most significant biodiversity hotspots globally. But the biodiversity crisis is enormous and very serious, so LLF’s work is only one key building block of several. At the same time, we have to develop instruments for sustainable land use in non-protected areas.

What is special about LLF and how can it make a difference?

© Daniel Rosengren

It is unique because LLF brings together different stakeholders and draws resources both from public and private sources into one coherent funding agreement. That way, LLF can offer long-term support to parks, which allows them to develop strategies that go beyond the usual three to four years. Conservation managers on the ground get a long-term perspective with reliable financial resources at their disposal and thus can do what they are supposed to do: think of solutions to ensure species are thriving, biodiversity is not further depleted, and natural services remain intact.

In addition, LLF makes a difference in that it also finances strong and long-term collaboration with local communities, respecting their needs and rights, and looks at their livelihoods as well. Balancing protection and use of nature is a challenge that is tackled jointly.

Would you consider LLF’s work a success story so far?

Definitely, yes. The speed at which it was set up was ground-breaking. It’s a clear achievement to have five sites and two in the final stages as part of the LLF support scheme after one year. Plus, the first call for proposals opened and it sparked a lot of interest and high-quality concept notes. Very positive is also the way LLF has included partners. Yet, to call it an overall success story, LLF will have to be measured by its long-term impact on the ground. And that is yet too early to assess. But so far LLF has made an excellent start.

What kind of impact would you like to see?

© Stefanie Lang / LLF

There are site-specific indicators I find important: like areas under protection, how species develop, the number of households profiting from a park, the relation between the park and communities, the contribution towards climate mitigation and adaptation. These and other indicators along that line are important to measure the impact of LLF.

How ambitious should LLF be, in your opinion?

The goal is to reach one billion dollars as capital for the fund by 2030. That might sound ambitious. But looking at the need to really protect the global natural heritage it is not overly ambitious. We can reach that goal if we find more contributors. Therefore I very much hope that additional partners will join LLF.

That means you will personally work to rally more support in your function at the ministry and as chair of the supervisory board?

That is one of my major tasks indeed. I am engaged in talks all the time. And we will continue to work in that direction.

So LLF is a German initiative, but is it becoming more and more international?

That is the plan. However, we at BMZ also want to facilitate the work of LLF by improving the policy side in a given country, to create an enabling environment for the protection of biodiversity. It is important to have governments that foster protection and sustainable use because they are two sides of the same coin.

Talking about goals, if we look at the immediate future, what should LLF have achieved by the end of the year?

By that time, LLF should have successfully selected more sites from the first call. Ideally we will have been able to mobilize additional funds, from public and private sources. And I hope that we will have been able to introduce LLF as an important instrument for biodiversity funding to the summit COP15. If we manage all that, it would be a good record and a solid contribution to the greater cause of saving biodiversity for the future of humankind.

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