Mirova, IUCN, TASA, Blue Finance and ministry of Blue Economy of Belize announce their partnership in an innovative blended finance facility to improve the management of Belize’s marine protected areas & contribute to its blue economy
The US$1.2 million facility allows the Marine Protected Area co-manager, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), to implement a number of sustainable revenue-generating initiatives and enhance the protection of the 132,000 hectares of spectacular coral reef ecosystems. The investment will have a positive impact on the local economy, including coastal fisher communities.
This blended impact investment, alongside catalytic grant funding, will allow TASA to implement smart business models aligned with conservation objectives and generate its own revenues, to effectively protect the marine reserve. The project will enhance TASA’s financial sustainability, improve the MPA visitor experience, generate blue carbon credits and contribute to the effective long-term management of the Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve.
The investment will also be used to improve the management of fisheries, coral reefs, mangrove and sea grass habitats and is expected to have a direct impact on the local economy, benefitting small-scale fishers (re increased fishery productivity), promoting responsible tourism, and creating new jobs in the MPA.
The investment will contribute directly to the United-Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) 1, 13, 14 and 17 (No poverty, Climate action, Life below water and Partnerships). Performance will be monitored using best practice impact standards.
The facility has been structured by and funded by Natixis Investment Manager’s affiliate Mirova (through the Althelia Sustainable Ocean Fund1) in partnership with IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) through its Blue Natural Capital Finance Facility and with the support of Blue Finance, a specialized impact investment project developer for MPAs. TASA and Blue Finance are working together to design and implement new business models around innovative nature-based tourism solutions and to design a blue carbon project based on mangrove conservation.
The blended finance facility is a result of an innovative collaboration between public sector, private sector, NGOs and communities working towards making MPAs financially sustainable and more independent from traditional funding (grants, public money).
The Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve uses a collaborative management structure between the Ministry of Blue Economy of Belize and TASA, a non-government entity, through a public– private partnership agreement. This agreement redistributes the financial burden and attracts long-term economic and technical support needed for effective management. Similar experiences with terrestrial nature conservation in the world, shows that this kind of agreement can improve service and financial sustainability through professional management and marketing, reducing the need for public subsidies, and mobilize capital for investment in protected areas’ infrastructure and biodiversity.
Through the development of this finance solution, the partners will aid in attracting new investment into this critical but underfunded area of protecting natural capital and reducing poverty in Belize. By demonstrating proof-of-concept at scale, the solution builds confidence in natural capital investment within the region.
Today, more than 60% of coral reefs worldwide are under immediate and direct threat (WRI, 2018).
At the same time, some 500 million people depend directly on these ecosystems for food and income, making these populations particularly vulnerable to reef-loss and an ensuing circle of poverty. Well managed and financed MPAs are the cornerstones of international efforts to “replenish biodiversity and nourish the growing human population” (IUCN, 2018). However, 70% of the MPAs worldwide struggle to meet minimum management standards, due to piecemeal insufficient, and short-term funding for MPAs which is largely provided by public and development finance.
The facility begins addressing this large gap in conservation finance for MPAs by supporting Belize’s MPAs in their sustainability endeavors.
Simon Dent, Head of Blue Investment at Mirova Natural Capital says, “Where real effective protection of the ocean is today still only at about 3% , TASA is a great example of the type of initiatives the Sustainable Ocean Fund is seeking to support, and where there is significant potential to scale environmental and social impacts for marine protection, in lockstep with a sustainable long term business model”.
“IUCN is very excited to enter jointly with its partners into a blended finance set-up for Nature-based Solutions for MPAs in Belize. The world needs to see how such projects work on the ground and make a real difference, for people and nature”, Minna Epps, Director, Global Marine and Polar Programme, IUCN.
“In a context of budget restrictions and Covid 19 recovery, solutions to generate critical finance for MPAs is a vital step towards marine conservation and natural resource management. Revenues generated through this investment will allow TASA to sustain the financing of our team in their daily activities in community development, ecosystem conservation, environmental education, and enforcement/compliance.” Valdemar Andrade, Executive Director, TASA
“Bringing together the financial world and the conservation world requires innovative and collaborative thinking. You need to ensure high quality for project design and execution and at the same time maintain a sustainable conservation strategy (rooted in science). Working with experienced partners such as Mirova, IUCN and TASA allowed us to find this balance and to successfully complete the collaborative management and blended finance solution for Belize”. Nicolas Pascal, CEO, Blue finance