Stimulating sustainable financing for long-term coral reef conservation in the Turks and Caicos Islands

A. Roddy McLeod
Published: 07 April 2021
Last edited: 08 April 2021
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Summary

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) economy largely relies on tourism, which in turn is heavily dependent on natural landscapes, clean coastal waterways and vibrant coral reefs. Although TCI’s ecosystems are integral to the local economy, there is a disconnect between the benefits these generate and the investments made in their management. 

To bridge the financing gap for effective marine protected area management, a collaborative initiative with the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR) focused on three strategic actions: identifying feasible mechanisms for long-term conservation financing; building the case for protected area and coral reef funding; and building capacity to monitor and report impacts of coral reef conservation. Through engagement with protected area managers and decision makers, the initiative increased support towards concrete financing solutions. As a result, a working group of relevant ministries was initiated to reinstate a national environmental fund.

Classifications

Region
Caribbean
Scale of implementation
National
Subnational
Ecosystem
Coral reef
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Theme
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Ecosystem services
Islands
Science and research
Sustainable financing
Tourism
Other theme
monitoring and reporting
Challenges
Loss of Biodiversity
Ocean warming and acidification
Ecosystem loss
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 9 – Industry, innovation and infrastructure
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 14 – Life below water
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 11: Protected areas
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources

Location

Providenciales, West Caicos, Turks and Caicos Islands
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Challenges

  • Decision makers responsible for government budget allocation face competing priorities in every budget cycle. 
  • While the case for increased funding for nature management built on clear links between healthy ecosystems and the tourism economy, further arguments on the urgency of coral reef protection could still be required to strengthen subsequent budget requests.
  • Additional follow up among project partners beyond the official implementation schedule was fundamental to deal with the impacts of staff turnover and maintain new managers informed of and engaged in both, the communication of a strong business case for funding, and the transfer of technical capacities for coral reef monitoring to new staff.

Beneficiaries

Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

Princess Alexandra Land and Sea National Park in Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

How do the building blocks interact?

The building blocks were implemented in a sequential process with increasing degrees of specificity.

 

The first building block consisted of a broad analysis of existing and potential mechanisms to fund conservation activities in TCI. This provided recommendations on feasible strategic paths.

 

Following the proposed strategies, the second building block focused on producing the most relevant evidence to support the case for increased funding to protected areas, emphasizing the supporting role of ecosystems such as coral reefs within the tourism economy.

 

Finally, the third building block developed specific capacities required to generate further evidence for increased protected area funding over time. This building block focused specifically on coral reefs, as well as monitoring and reporting capacities.

Impacts

Improved collaboration for conservation finance 

The initiative identified long-term financing solutions for protected areas, such as ring-fencing part of the nature-related revenue. Support by high-level stakeholders was obtained and they expressed willingness to evaluate fund allocation to coral-reef monitoring through the regular budget cycle. A working group of decision makers from key ministries was created to discuss the reinstatement of a fund for long-term ecosystem management.

 

Improved coral reef management through strengthened monitoring capacities

DECR and civil society partners were trained in coral reef monitoring methods and in communicating monitoring results to key stakeholders. The capacity to work with socioeconomic and ecological monitoring indicators (such as the Atlantic Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment's Reef Health Index) and incorporating them into their management practices was improved. 

 

Improved communication of the benefits obtained from ecosystems

The evidence produced created greater awareness among decision makers of the economy’s dependency on healthy coral reefs, the main threats to coral reef health and the environmental and economic effects of coral reef degradation. Building on this information, a business case was prepared for DECR to justify increased funding for natural resource management.

Contributed by

Amílcar Guzmán Valladares Wolfs Company

Other contributors

Wolfs Company