8 June 2023—Today, World Oceans Day, the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) officially launched a new project with the Blue Nature Alliance. Designed to prepare a new regional financing facility that delivers funding for marine protected areas, the project will also advance regional political engagement on ocean conservation targets. The project will be implemented by the CBF over the next 3 years ending in 2026.
This timely collaboration contributes to the Caribbean’s push towards the global “30×30” conservation target which calls for 30% of the earth’s land and sea to be conserved through the establishment of protected areas and other area-based conservation measures (OECMs).
The Caribbean has shown sustained political will for ocean conservation through regional-led efforts such as the Caribbean Challenge Initiative. Governments are aligned that any progress on enhancing marine protected areas (MPAs) is directly correlated to the region’s ability to move past key roadblocks to progress on implementation. Roadblocks such as the lack of adequate long-term and sustainable financing, effective regional governance structures, and long-term capacity to sustain management of proposed MPAs. Success for the region hinges on overcoming these challenges.
A marine protected area is part of the ocean that is legally protected and managed to achieve long term conservation of nature. Though a conservation action, there are economic benefits associated with MPAs such as supporting sustainable industries, local economies and coastal communities through resilient and healthy marine ecosystems allowed to develop undisturbed in these protected areas.
The project consists of 2 components: advance regional political engagement on ocean conservation targets and scale regional sustainable financing for MPAs.
A recent assessment by The Nature Conservancy revealed strong recommendations to advance the political platform initially created by the Caribbean Challenge Initiative to 2030 instead of its 2020 expiration date. Crucial to achieving the region’s ambitious conservation goals, the CBF established from the CCI will engage Caribbean governments with technical and financial baseline support to advance the 30×30 vision at the regional level.
Financing is key for sustained management and expansion of MPAs in the Caribbean. Within this project, the CBF, will develop and prepare the launch of the first regional financing facility that focuses primarily on delivering financing for MPAs. Through the Blue Nature Alliance, McKinsey & Company is scheduled to provide necessary financial analytical support in designing such a facility.
The Caribbean Biodiversity Fund
The CBF currently provides financial and technical resources to 11 National Conservation Trust Funds (NCTFs) through the CBF Endowment Fund. The NCTFs subsequently provide grants to appropriate national organizations to support improved MPA management and expansion, among other conservation objectives. However, sustained management of MPAs remains an issue. Lack of accessible and sustainable financing remains the largest barrier to advancing MPAs within the region. Governments in the region continue to explore opportunities such as debt for nature conversions, blue bonds, MPA access fees, grant financing, and endowment schemes. Despite these efforts, the CBF remains the only sustainable financing mechanism in the region that provides reliable funding to eligible governments.
The CBF has been expanding on its resources and support to the countries. In 2012, there was only one Funding Facility, the CBF Endowment Fund, or the Conservation Finance Facility, but the CBF in addition, manages since 2016 the Climate Change Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Facility (USD 50 million sinking fund) and since 2022 the Nature Based Economies Facility (USD 25 million sinking fund). Supported by The Nature Conservancy, the German Government (BMZ and KfW), The World Bank Group and the Global Environment Facility, raised an initial $42 million to establish a regional endowment that channels funds into National Conservation Trust Funds. To date. The deposits as of 2023 have been doubled to an amount of U$ 85 million.