Image used in hero section:Bale Mountains. Photo credit: stefancek.

The conservation of AZE sites is increasingly being mainstreamed into the safeguard policies of key International Financial Institutions. Below, learn more about protections for AZE sites in financial institution policies.

Listen to a webinar on AZE sites, KBAs and financial institutions here.


The International Finance Corporation (IFC) update to Guidance Note 6, Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources, restricts the definition of the most critical habitat to AZE sites and UNESCO sites. See below and here for more information:

GN54. Based on the mitigation and management requirements of paragraph 17 of PS6, some areas will not be acceptable for financing with the possible exception of projects specifically designed to contribute to the conservation of the area. Consultation with the relevant national and international organizations that designate these areas is required. These areas should be identified during the assessment of critical habitat and brought to the attention of IFC as early as possible in the financing process. They include:

• UNESCO Natural and Mixed World Heritage Sites;
Sites that fit the designation criteria of the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE).


Global datasets and tools for screening critical habitats, legally protected areas and internationally recognised areas: Information sheet for Equator Principles Financial Institutions

This information sheet explains the commitments made by financial institutions to screen investment decisions for potential impacts on critical habitats. It focuses on AZE sites, Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) and Important Bird Areas (IBAs), and offers information resources and decision support tools for identifying critical habitats, legally protected areas and internationally recognized areas.


Guidelines on business and KBAs: Managing risk to biodiversity

Many policies and guidelines on the protection of Key Biodiversity Areas, such as these Guidelines on business and KBAs, pertain to AZE sites as well and can be consulted for additional information on safeguarding AZE sites through private sector efforts.


The World Bank's Guidance Note for Borrowers. Environmental and Social Standards 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources

This guidance document for borrowers, part of The World Bank's Environmental and Social Standards (ESS6), lists AZE sites as "internationally recognized areas of high biodiversity value."


International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, is “the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.” IFC’s standards are “designed to help IFC’s clients improve their business performance, enhance transparency, engage with the people affected by the projects IFC finances, protect the environment, and achieve greater development impact.”


Global screening for Critical Habitat in the terrestrial realm (IFC)

This paper explains how AZE sites are incorporated into a screening layer for the identification of Critical Habitat, which represents areas of high biodiversity value as defined by the International Finance Corporation Performance Standard 6.

Listen to how AZE and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) began to work together to conserve the most critical sites for global biodiversity!Click here

The following sections of Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources apply to all AZE sites.

Critical Habitat 16. Critical habitats are areas with high biodiversity value, including (i) habitat of significant importance to Critically Endangered and/or Endangered species; (ii) habitat of significant importance to endemic and/or restricted-range species; (iii) habitat supporting globally significant concentrations of migratory species and/or congregatory species; (iv) highly threatened and/or unique ecosystems; and/or (v) areas associated with key evolutionary processes. 17. In areas of critical habitat, the client will not implement any project activities unless all of the following are demonstrated:

  • No other viable alternatives within the region exist for development of the project on modified or natural habitats that are not critical;
  • The project does not lead to measurable adverse impacts on those biodiversity values for which the critical habitat was designated, and on the ecological processes supporting those biodiversity values;
  • The project does not lead to a net reduction in the global and/or national/regional population of any Critically Endangered or Endangered species over a reasonable period of time; and
  • A robust, appropriately designed, and long-term biodiversity monitoring and evaluation program is integrated into the client’s management program.

18. In such cases where a client is able to meet the requirements defined in paragraph 17, the project’s mitigation strategy will be described in a Biodiversity Action Plan and will be designed to achieve net gains of those biodiversity values for which the critical habitat was designated. 19. In instances where biodiversity offsets are proposed as part of the mitigation strategy, the client must demonstrate through an assessment that the project’s significant residual impacts on biodiversity will be adequately mitigated to meet the requirements of paragraph 17.


Below please find sections from the Guidance Note 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources that pertain to AZE.

All AZE sites would automatically qualify as Tier 1 critical habitat per Criterion 1 as the AZE threshold is set at 95 percent of CR and EN species (in a discrete management unit). See Ricketts, T.H., et al. 2005. Pinpointing and Preventing Imminent Extinctions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – US. 51: 18497–18501. Criterion 1: Critically Endangered and Endangered Species GN71. Species threatened with global extinction and listed as CR and EN on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species shall be considered as part of Criterion 1. Critically Endangered species face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Endangered species face a very high risk of extinction in the wild.

Learn more about IFC Performance Standards

Be a force for zero extinction

Policy Makers

Include AZE sites within your national government conservation strategies

Government resources

Research Scientists

Help conservation efforts through submitting site updates and nomination

Science resources

Conservation organizations

Protect sites independently or in collaboration with other organizations

Conservation resources

Individual contributors

Give your support to individual AZE partner organizations around the world

Contribution options

Bale Mountains. Photo: stefancek