As pressures increase owing to human activity, climate change and the demands of working to achieve 30% effective protection by 2030, the funding deficit grows ever bigger.
In fact, a marine protected area’s success and longevity depend directly on the of its management and on whether the team has adequate working conditions; and these factors depend on the budget available to support the team and its work.
A marine protected area’s budget basically relies on government funding and philanthropy. In developed countries, contributions from the national budget may provide these areas with a degree of financial stability, but often remain insufficient.
For example, a 2015 study by Thomas Binet, founder of BlueSeeds, identified that Mediterranean MPAs faced a funding shortage of EUR 700 million, which prevented them from operating effectively. They had only secured 12% of the funding they needed to achieve the of protecting 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020 – a goal which was not met.
Investment from the international community (development aid, philanthropy, non-governmental organisations) is . However, such funding is distributed on a project basis: when the project ends, the funding stops.
Owing to this culture of “project-based” funding, what happens to the MPA team beyond the project’s closure is often not thought through.
The teams often need to review their sources of revenue and cut costs. Sometimes, they end up cutting valuable resources and activities, and devoting their time to fundraising rather than to their conservation work.
Internally, problems arise owing to a lack of financial planning skills among managers. It can happen that teams fail despite receiving significant sums of money linked to a project, because they struggle to manage the funds properly.
Externally, managers are confronted with restrictive legal frameworks that prevent them from establishing local financing mechanisms that could allow them to diversify their revenue streams.
Nonetheless, protected areas present ample opportunities for generating funds. These are places that can offer precious ecosystem services with economic potential, for example by acting as carbon sinks for the ecosystems they protect, or attracting tourists to enjoy unspoilt nature.
Developing self-financing mechanisms for marine protected areas
BlueSeeds has developed support programmes for MPA managers to help them establish mechanisms to self-finance their activities at a local level. These mechanisms involve introducing visitor fees and granting concessions to private operators.
Thanks to these programmes, managers are able to harness a proportion of tourism revenue to benefit their MPA, increase and diversify their revenue streams, and strengthen their long-term financial sustainability.
Guide on financing mechanisms
Want to know more about these mechanisms? Consult our MPA financing guide.
In 2020, BlueSeeds published a guide on financing mechanisms for marine protected areas and made it available to interested professionals for free.
The guide introduces managers to the process of developing a robust financial strategy for their MPA, covering cost and revenue planning, funding gap analysis, cost rationalisation and analysis of potential funding sources. This introduction is followed by step-by-step, practical methodologies for implementing self-financing mechanisms.
A new chapter is now available, focussing on how to set up and obtain funding for conservation projects!
Strengthening finance and management know-how among protected area managers
Since BlueSeeds was founded, it has been commissioned several times to train protected area managers in financial planning and effective management. Thanks to the MedPAN, the RAMPAO and the MAVA Foundation, who put their trust in us, we have provided training for personnel in 80 protected areas and protected area networks in 21 countries.
During such training, we offer managers theoretical and practical courses aimed at enabling them to identify their funding gap , assess the health of their cash flow and identify new funding sources. We also introduce them to innovative self-financing mechanisms that they could introduce in their protected area.
Custom-made financing solutions
Supporting and developing financing solutions for protected areas
In a consultancy capacity, BlueSeeds regularly supports protected areas in strengthening their financial sustainability.
Our conservation finance expertise is called upon by both project leaders and governments who wish to clarify and enhance the financial strategy of existing or planned protected areas. We develop funding scenarios over several years, considering the area’s environmental, legal, political and budgetary context.
Would you like to talk to us about funding opportunities for a protected area?