Historic U.S.-Peru debt-for-nature swap

Washington, D.C., June 26, 2002 With a commitment of $1.1 million from Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund, the U.S. and Peruvian governments today signed an historic agreement to protect some of the most biologically rich tropical rain forests on Earth. This is the first time three leading conservation groups have joined forces with the U.S. government to advance a debt-for-nature swap.

Peru's Ambassador to the United States, Allan Wagner, and Treasury Department Under Secretary for International Affairs, John B. Taylor, signed the agreement this morning during a ceremony at the U.S. Treasury Department. A debt-for-nature swap relieves a government's foreign debt burden in exchange for its commitment to spend a certain amount of their local currency for conservation work. The Peruvian debt swap will generate funds for distribution to local Peruvian conservation groups engaged in a wide variety of conservation activities. This will greatly increase the ability of these groups to conserve ten tropical rain forest areas covering more than 27.5 million acresabout the size of Virginiaand containing some of the richest, yet most threatened biodiversity on Earth, including rare pink river dolphins, jaguars, scarlet macaws, walking palms and giant water lilies.

Under the agreement, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund each committed approximately $370,000 for a total of $1.1 million. The U.S. government allocated $5.5 million to cancel a portion of Peru's debt to the United States. The federal funding is authorized by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act of 1998, which encouraged the reduction of foreign debt in exchange for a financial commitment to forest conservation.

As a result, Peru will save about $14 million in debt payments over the next 16 years, and will provide the local currency equivalent of approximately $10.6 million toward conservation over t

Contact: Brad Phillips
Conservation International

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