World leaders at COP15 have set ambitious goals to address the biodiversity crisis of which the one called “the 30×30” aiming at conserving 30% of the earth’s land, inland waters, coastal areas and oceans by 2030. At present, under 8% of the world’s ocean area is legally protected while only 2.4% is considered “fully or highly” protected. One of the barriers to increase this proportion is the availability of sustainable financing. Bringing the financial support for the Sustainable Development Goal 14 – Life below water- is vital and this is the purpose of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR), a blended finance vehicle initiated by the Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

There are a number of established Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Philippines but with the lack of implementation measures and sufficient financial resources, most of them remain protected only on paper. Through shared management of MPAs with alliances, social entreprises, gouvernement, appropriate logistic and financial support, those MPAs can be effectively managed and generate sustainable revenues.

Launched by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) in July of 2022, the program named ‘Mamuhunan sa mga MPAs (‘responsible investment in MPAs’) is aiming at generating revenues for MPAs in Malaysia. 

This is an 8-year project that will be led by Blue finance – a social enterprise managing for governments a federation of Marine Protected Areas, to regenerate high-biodiversity coral reefs, protect endangered species and improve the livelihoods of coastal community members.

The initiative commenced with a pilot site in North Oriental Mindoro, where innovative long term co-management agreements have been signed for a network of 12 MPAs. These agreements are between local governments, well-embedded local community partners and Blue Alliance Philippines (a Blue finance sister company).

The MPAs aim to become financially sustainable by creating tangible revenue streams that are reinvested directly back into each MPA. Main revenues will come from the following pipeline of reef-positive businesses, which are already in development:

Global Fund Coral Reefs

·               Responsible ecotourism programmes generating contributions to the MPAs through new product development and facilities, destination & product marketing, tourism awareness and engagement campaigns;

·               A highly engaging visitor center, ‘The Sea Sensorium’, getting guests in touch with fascinating marine life in new and exciting ways, through high-tech interactive experiences;

·               Restoration and conservation of mangroves as major carbon sinks and key ecosystems for coastal management. Projects will generate Blue-carbon credits through a close partnership with communities and Uba Sustainable Institute, an international carbon credit expert company;

·               A hatchery and extensive aquaculture company for mangrove crabs, preventing over-exploitation of wild stocks, generating incomes for coastal households and regenerating mangroves. The project is implemented by Blueyou Group, an international aquaculture expert company;

·               Other revenue streams are being explored from plastic recycling, fishery improvement projects and other small scale aquaculture businesses.

Global Fund Coral Reefs

 “The fourth quarter of 2022 witnessed a significant global deal for nature, a commitment by top donors to leverage international public finance to mobilize private resources for biodiversity, and greater commitment to coral action at the global level. “

Nicolas Pascal, Executive Director at Blue Finance

First revenues are expected by mid-2023, with an annual ramp-up until financial sustainability of the MPAs is attained by 2025 (i.e. covering their annual operational expenditures). 

In parallel, Blue finance has designed an innovative “MPA blended finance facility” to provide adequate up-front and early stage capital for the establishment of the sustainable MPAs. 

In the field, the MPAs have been implementing initial activities related to environmental compliance. With more than 5,000 hours of patrolling, carried out by community rangers, as well as initiating community development & engagement activities through direct employment and micro-enterprise development.

At the same time, baseline ecological data has been collected on coral reefs and fish populations, inside and outside our MPAs and comprehensive fish landing campaigns have been conducted directly with the coastal fisher communities.

New project of the Global Fund for Coral Reefs

Source: GFCR, Blue Finance