Everyone agrees that protected areas are valuable, but can they make money? Can they achieve full financial stability, and even provide a return on private investment? A new IUCN initiative aims to find out.
The aim of the Incubator for Nature Conservation led by The IUCN Environmental Law Centre working with the Global Protected Areas Programme and the Business and Biodiversity Programme is to support on-the-ground solutions for financing protected and conserved areas around the world. Earlier this year, IUCN sent out a call for potential partner sites willing to test innovative ideas for financing conservation. Last month, the INC Working Group met to consider the proposals received.
Proposals came in from all parts of the world -- Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. They came from protected area managers, NGOs, communities and private associations. Private protected areas and community conserved areas, as well as areas governed by government or shared government structures were represented. Proposed sites covered the full range of ecosystems, from mountains to islands, wetlands to desert, peri-urban areas to vast uninhabited landscapes. They include Ramsar Sites, World Heritage Sites, UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
The INC Working Group evaluated each proposal to understand the needs and potential of each site and make a common decision on which sites to include in the INC pilot phase. At the end of the meeting, 10 sites from different parts of the world, different ecosystem types and different governance models were selected.
The next week, in Chile, INC was presented at the Fourth International Marine Protected Area Congress. IUCN announced the three marine protected areas included in the announcement. Many marine experts and other professionals are looking at the Incubator as a great opportunity to start mobilizing new ways to fund protected areas.
All selected sites have great financing potential, though most lack financial security for long term management. INC will work with them to develop and implement solutions, ranging from carbon financing to ecotourism to sale of products from the area. Over the coming months, INC will work with sites to understand the most pressing needs, the clearest opportunities, and how best to build a strong and sustainable financial future.
There will be many things happening around the Incubator´s pilot phase, we are willing to hear from you to become part of this exciting experience. If you would like to learn more or contribute as a partner please contact us at: [email protected]