Ultimately, planning should identify the most impactful potential solutions to significant conservation problems. The first phase sets the scope and direction for planning by identifying challenges and defining success at a high level. At the end of this phase, the conservation team will have defined the relevant challenge(s), geographies, conservation targets, and human well-being components to be addressed by the plan. This phase will also produce a situation analysis that evaluates key socio-ecological drivers and informs opportunities for affecting change. Finally, minimum goals that strategies should seek to meet will be identified.

The entry point for conservation planning in the previous version of Conservation by Design was typically a geography, such as an ecoregion, with strategies that focused on conserving priority areas, or places, within the ecoregion. CbD 2.0 uses a socio-ecological system as the entry point, and these types of systems are often defined differently than an ecoregion, which is defined exclusively by ecological attributes. The globe, a food production system for a country or region, and a river basin are all examples of socio- ecological systems. In addition, our strategies aim for systemic change as we know that conservation work does not end with protection of a particular place. Our broad conservation goal, therefore, is to address the most significant challenges facing people and nature. Ideally, selected challenges are identified based on a global or regional situation analysis to ensure that the challenge/strategy that is being focused on is an important one for biodiversity as well as people. For example, the Conservancy is in early stages of developing an approach for completing a global-to-regional situation analysis that would help identify the most significant challenges to nature and people at these scales. Smaller whole-system scale efforts can then be informed by these larger scale analyses, and opportunities for these efforts to contribute to regional and global-scale systemic change can be explored using the approach described in this Guidance document (please see Appendix H for more details about the Conservancy’s global-to-regional situation analysis approach).