Darwin Initiative


Organizational profile: 

The Darwin Initiative is a UK government grants scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment through locally based projects worldwide. 
Most projects will include one or more of the following activities:

  • building environmental knowledge
  • capacity building
  • research
  • implementing international biodiversity agreements

Since 1992, the Darwin Initiative has awarded over £164m to more than 1,143 projects across 159 countries.

Related funds:
Darwin Plus is a UK government grants scheme that funds projects that aim to protect the unique biodiversity and improve resilience to climate change within the UK Overseas Territories. Since 2012, Darwin Plus has awarded over £32m to more than 162 projects in the UK Overseas Territories.

The Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund is a UK government grants scheme that provides support to projects around the world that are tackling the illegal wildlife trade. The illegal wildlife trade is a criminal industry worth more than £17 billion each year threatening both wildlife and people. To date, the IWT Challenge Fund has supported 136 projects in over 60 countries to a value of over £43 million.

Financing Instrument: Grants

Project scale: 

The Darwin Initiative runs four grant schemes:  

  • Darwin Initiative Extra provides grants between £600,000 and £5,000,000 for projects lasting between 2 to 5 years maximum.
  • Darwin Initiative Main invites applications for environmental projects between £100,000 and £600,000 for projects lasting 1 to 3 years maximum.
  • Darwin Initiative Innovation provides grants between £10,000 and £200,000 for projects lasting between 1 to 2 years maximum.
  • Darwin Initiative Capability & Capacity provides grants between £50,000 and £200,000 between for projects lasting 1 to 2 years maximum.

The maximum annual value of funds requested should not exceed 25% of the Lead Partner’s average annual turnover/income for the previous 3 years.

Recipient countries regions/country groups: 

Darwin projects work in developing countries. The list of eligible countries changes year to year so please review the latest guidance for a list of countries currently eligible.

Recipient categories: Governments, Businesses, NGOs/NPOs, Universities

Eligibility Criteria: Projects typically try to address threats to biodiversity such as:

  • habitat loss or degradation
  • climate change
  • invasive species
  • over-exploitation
  • pollution and eutrophication

Organisations making the application must:

  • have experience of managing similar projects in developing countries
  • be able to demonstrate financial stability and provide audited accounts
  • The proposed project leader must have suitable qualifications or a minimum of around 10 years’ experience working on similar projects in developing countries

Application guidelines:

The application process varies for different funding schemes – some schemes are single stage whereas others are a two-stage process. Please note that application to Stage 2 is by invite only. The specific requirements for each funding scheme can be found on the website. All applications are managed through the online system, Flexi-Grant. The Darwin Initiative aims to open a funding Round to applications each year, but the timing can vary and an annual cycle is not necessarily guaranteed.  For more information, please check https://www.darwininitiative.org.uk/apply/ 

Last updated: 10 October 2023

Publication Date
Thursday, 11 March 2021
Applicable location
Biodiversity conservation
Climate change
Forest conservation and management
Financing opportunities