Nathalie Zenny, Pedro Bank Project Manager, explores a coral flat on the Pedro Bank.
Countries participating in the Caribbean Challenge pledge to:
- Expand marine protected area systems to include at least 20 percent of their near shore area by 2020
- Develop conservation finance mechanisms (such as park entrance and user fees, and concessions) to create sustainable funding for national protected area systems
- Develop innovative strategies and projects for climate change adaptation to help corals adapt to increasing stresses, including warmer waters and over use
At the invitation of Caribbean nations involved in the Challenge, the Conservancy—the only large conservation NGO in the region whose work is local, regional and global—is coordinating with participating countries to help them meet these landmark conservation goals and commitments.
The Caribbean Challenge, which represents the largest coordinated, multi-national conservation campaign in the region, is no small undertaking. The Conservancy has pledged $20 million in private funding to help leverage another $20 million in public financial commitments.
Together, the funds will endow more than US$40 million in protected area trust funds to ensure that important marine and coastal habitats are protected forever. Countries participating in the Challenge will have access to these funds dedicated solely to the creation and management of new and existing protected areas.
Seen in that light, a $20 million conservation investment seems a very small price to pay for the priceless return of protecting the fish stocks and tourism-related livelihoods of the more than 10 million people living within the Challenge’s participating nations.
As the will for conservation continues to grow in the Caribbean and more countries join the Challenge, there is need for strong conservation leadership, solution-oriented science and management expertise as well as funding sufficient to make a real difference—the very hallmarks of the Conservancy.
Private funds are necessary to leverage public funds in support of the Challenge or we will lose this extraordinary opportunity to change the face of conservation in the Caribbean forever.