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On 1 January 2016, member states of the United Nations adopted a series of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. These goals are expected to guide national development plans in the coming years. The SDGs are ambitious: they include such goals as ending poverty, ending hunger, ensuring healthy lives, and achieving sustainable consumption. And under each SDG are multiple specific targets. SDG 1 for example — to end poverty — includes targets to reduce the number of people living in poverty by at least half by 2030, and to eradicate extreme poverty all together.

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By Juan E. Bezaury-Creel, David Gutiérrez-Carbonell, and César Sánchez-Ibarra

On 7 December 2016, during the 13th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13) held in Cancún, the Mexican Government designated three new MPAs totaling 647,015 km2. All three sites are multiple-use biosphere reserves, with some zones that are strictly protected (no-take) and others that are sustainably managed.

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Canada designates MPA to protect globally unique glass sponge reefs

On 16 February, the Government of Canada designated a 2410-km2 MPA along its Pacific coast to protect several globally unique and ancient glass sponge reefs. The glass sponges have mineral skeletons made of silica (hence their ‘glass’ name) and their reef structures are estimated to be 9000 years old. Glass sponge reefs of this size — once abundant during Earth’s Jurassic Period — were believed by scientists to be extinct before these colonies were discovered off Canada in 1987.

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In early 2016, a report by firms in the global financial sector estimated that conservation funding worldwide could be grown from its current level of US $52 billion to as much as $400 billion per year. How? Through private investment. If conservation projects could be made profitable — such as by generating revenue from ecotourism or by supporting sustainable resource extraction — nature protection would become attractive to investors. Investors would pay for protected areas, for example, and make their money back (with interest) on the tourism or other revenue-generating activities that occurred there.

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Stephen M. Kohn is Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center (NWC), a legal advocacy organization. The NWC has spent 30 years supporting whistleblowers, mostly in the banking and securities sector where awareness of the reward system is relatively high. When Kohn realized in 2015 that the whistleblower reward system also existed throughout US environmental law, he decided that a tool that worked successfully in fighting financial crime should be applied just as energetically to fighting wildlife crime.

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By Tadzio Bervoets, Nature Foundation St. Maarten (adapted by MPA News)

For a long time there was little government management of the marine environment in the Caribbean island nation of St. Maarten. In 1997, the Nature Foundation St. Maarten was established in order to set up and manage a marine park, under contract from the St. Maarten government. But the proposed park failed to gain political support: the way it was designed, the park would have had significant impacts on the country’s cruise ship industry, dive shop operators, and fishers.

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There is perhaps no topic of greater interest to the MPA field than financing. A search through the MPA News archives reveals that over the years we have covered the subject dozens of times — from how to diversify funding streams, to starting successful endowments, to building strong fundraising programs, and much more.

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There are some excellent publications available to guide protected areas in developing new revenue streams, including IUCN’s Sustainable Financing of Protected Areas, several reports by the Conservation Finance Alliance, and more. (Following this article, this issue of MPA News contains a library of resources on conservation financing.)

But implementing new revenue strategies based simply on guidelines from a report may not always be easy. This is particularly the case if your management team does not already have a background in business or financing. In this situation, having a partner institution to serve as an experienced guide can be a great help in diversifying revenues successfully.

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