Hurricanes, droughts and other severe weather events are particularly detrimental to Caribbean nations who rely heavily on tourism as a major source of revenue. Often characterized by the slogan ‘sun, sand and sea’ and loved for their lush flora and fauna, these islands rely heavily on their biodiversity and other natural resources to attract tourists to their shores.
As international travel ground to a halt in 2020 so did the tourism industry. Leading Caribbean destinations which were on track to break national visitor arrival records up to 2019 all closed their borders in March 2020. The economic fallout for these nations was immense as they are particularly susceptible to economic shocks—clearly demonstrated and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizations such as the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) responded to the need for funding from the Caribbean as part of its commitment to strengthen community-led disaster mitigation and resilience in the region. From late 2020 through to 2021, the IAF invited hundreds of non-government entities to throw their hat in the ring for a highly competitive calls for proposals process where the winners were awarded grant funding to do effective programming and unlock additional public and private resources for long-term development.
Three Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) partner National Conservation Trust Funds (NCTFs) were among the winners—National Conservation Trust Fund of Jamaica (NCTFJ), Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund (SLUNCF) and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Conservation Fund (SVGCF).
In Jamaica, the project awarded is the Strengthening the National Conservation Trust Fund of Jamaica to support civil society organizations. The project, valued at US$ 900,340, will run from 2021 to 2024 and is expected to impact 430 people directly and indirectly. IAF’s funding is US$340,455 with US$559,975 in co-financing.
For St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the awarded grant will support SVGCF’s efforts to raise funds from local private sector and philanthropic organizations and invest in training and technical assistance to community projects and grassroots organizations addressing environmental challenges. That project, Strengthening the capacity of SVGCF and CSOs in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to address environmental and sustainable livelihood challenges will be implemented over 4 years from 2021 to 2024. The project is valued at US$901,900 with US$359,980 from the IAF and US$541,920 in co-financing and is expected to impact 610 individuals directly and indirectly through community asset mobilization.
In Saint Lucia, the awarded project was Strengthening the Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund to be an effective and efficient Community Foundation. With a total of US$902,300 in funding, the project is expected to impact a minimum of 472 individuals. Financing from the IAF is valued at US$400,000 with a counterpart commitment of US$502,300 and is expected to impact 472 individuals directly and indirectly through grassroots development.
National Conservation Trust Funds (NCTFs) are key national players that provide sustainable financial resources for the implementation of innovative projects and other solutions that respond to biodiversity threats. Each of the three organizations mentioned above, was already leading grantmaking processes in their respective countries with financial and technical support from the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund when awarded the Inter American Foundation grant, financing projects and driving programs for the protection and preservation of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems through a network of local stakeholders in their home countries. This fact would have no doubt made them ideal candidates to support community projects.
These three NCTFs were established with financial support from the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund through its donors: KfW (German Development Bank), The Nature Conservancy and the World Bank. These three donors provided financial resources for each country (Jamaica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines), which were deposited into the CBF Endowment Fund, managed by the CBF.
The CBF signed Partnership Agreements with each National Conservation Trust Fund (NCTF) mentioned earlier, to disburse regular financial contributions from the CBF Endowment Fund. In fact, the organizations applied to the Inter American Foundation bid to further advance in accessing additional and sustainable financial resources to achieve their respective goals related to the protection of their countries’ natural resources, as is being promoted and supported by the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF).
NCTFs need sustainable funding to continue their national missions and grants from the IAF and other organizations offer support for this. One of the major contributions of this IAF grant is not only the grant making process, it is the capacity building and support to the potential grantees for example, to prepare project proposals, to implement and monitor their projects and sometimes even to open bank accounts.
ABOUT THE CARIBBEAN BIODIVERSITY FUND
The Caribbean Biodiversity Fund was established in 2012 to create reliable, long-term funding for conservation and sustainable development in the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) is a regional umbrella environmental fund that uses a flexible structure to implement innovative solutions and consolidate resource mobilization in the Caribbean through a range of financial instruments. The CBF has received financial support from mainly the German Government, specifically the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Environment (BMU), both through the German Development Bank KfW and the IKI International Climate Initiative, as well as The Nature Conservancy (TNC). Other donors would include the GEF, World Bank, UNDP, French Agency for Development (AFD), the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM) and Global Affairs Canada.
Currently, the CBF has 3 programs, the Conservation Finance Program, based on an endowment fund, Climate Change Program, focused on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) strategies, and Nature-based Economies Program with an Advancing Circular Economy focus.
The Conservation Finance Program currently provides sustainable financing to 11 Conservation Trust Funds in the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.