WWF and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship come together to support communities in Mexico’s Oaxaca region

Posted on April, 20 2020

WWF-Mexico and WWF Nature Pays have joined forces with IKEA Social Entrepreneurship in a new partnership that integrates conservation, sustainable agriculture and livelihoods in the Copalita-Zimatan-Huatulco (CZH) landscape in Mexico’s Oaxaca region.

The three-year program, which aims to improve the lives of more than 1,500 people living in rural communities, will see 13 Community Conservation Enterprises (CCEs) - including six staffed exclusively by women - receive support to help consolidate and strengthen their businesses, with assistance provided on commercialisation, product design, market access, and the development of business cases. The partnership will also seek to support governance and decision-making structures to ensure that women and youth play more prominent roles. 

The partnership builds on a long-term conservation project carried out by WWF-Mexico  in the CZH landscape. Covering more than 250,000 hectares, CZH is home to hundreds of communities, mostly indigenous Zapotecs. Over recent decades, forests have been cleared to make way for agriculture - logged unsustainably and often illegally. Together with the impact of climate change, this loss has caused a decline in the quality and quantity of water from the region’s watershed and the erosion of soil, undermining the livelihoods of local communities.

CCEs - early-stage businesses providing livelihoods that also support the protection of surrounding habitats and biodiversity - are a key component of efforts to restore CHZ. In Oaxaca, an estimated 80% of forests are under the management and control of approximately 1,400 indigenous communities. By delivering long-term economic benefits for these communities alongside positive outcomes for nature, successful CCEs are crucial for the region’s protection and restoration.

The partnership will also establish innovative models that can be replicated in other regions across Oaxaca, where Zapotecs largely depend on the land to earn an income.    

This is the first programme between WWF and IKEA Social Entrepreneurship. However, since 2002 Inter IKEA Group and WWF have been working together in a long-standing and successful partnership in the areas of more sustainable cotton and responsible forest management.  

Nature Pays, part of WWF’s Markets Practice, is a new global approach that aims to build the capacity of WWF’s international network of offices to strengthen community enterprise development. Leveraging WWF’s global expertise, contacts and resources, Nature Pays is supporting CCEs in some of the world's most biologically diverse landscapes, seascapes and river basins to make a sustainable living. It achieves this by empowering them to gain access to markets and sources of investment, to develop viable and sustainable products, to establish environmental standards, to build essential business skills, and to establish legal rights and access to decision-making.

To find out more about one of the enterprises set to benefit from the partnership, read the story of Alternativa Agrícola Suchixtepec
Vanilla producers in Oaxaca
© WWF-Mexico