Countries and territories currently participating in the Caribbean Challenge Initiative:
- British Virgin Islands
- Dominican Republic
- Puerto Rico
- Saint Kitts & Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Launched in 2008 through the support of The Nature Conservancy, the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) is an endeavor of unprecedented scale and scope. Eleven participating CCI countries and territories have committed to:
- conserve at least 20% of their nearshore environments by 2020 (the 20-by-20 goal)—effectively tripling marine protected area coverage in the region
- ensure that these conserved areas are effectively managed into the future through a reliable, long-term finance structure
Why is the CCI a critical step for the Caribbean?
The Caribbean contains some of the world’s richest marine biodiversity. It is home to 10% of the world’s coral reefs, 12,000 fish and marine mammal species, 13,000 plant species and mile after mile of mangrove forests.
Caribbean lives and livelihoods directly depend upon healthy marine and coastal resources, but today these resources are increasingly threatened by unsustainable development, pollution, overfishing and climate change. Coral reefs, which provide vital marine habitat and protect coastlines from erosion and flooding, are dying rapidly and several species of commercially important fish are overexploited. Devastating tropical storms in recent years have made evident the dangers that island communities face, particularly in the Caribbean where 70% of the population lives along coastlines. Governments and people throughout the Caribbean must work together to address the growing threats to their marine and coastal environments.
How it works
To provide CCI governments with the reliable, long-term support needed to achieve their CCI commitments, the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) was established. The CBF, funded by the German Government (BMZ and KfW), The World Bank Group, Global Environment Facility and The Nature Conservancy, is a $42 million regional endowment that channels funds into National Conservation Trust Funds set up in each CCI country. These funds are matched by revenue raised by CCI governments via sustainable finance mechanisms, such as tourism fees. In recognition of the importance and urgency of this regional initiative, the Conservancy committed to raising $8 million towards the CBF—a goal that has been achieved through generous private philanthropy funds.
Together, the CCI and CBF will help increase natural and socioeconomic resilience in the Caribbean at a scale that has never been seen in the region. The Initiative will result in 21 million acres of new protected areas—roughly the size of South Carolina—and will promote a nature-based approach to building climate resilience that can serve as a model in a world gravely threatened by climate change. It will also support the tourism industry, on which so many Caribbean livelihoods rely, and foster sustainable management of fisheries and other marine resources.
Real progress is underway
Already, meaningful and lasting progress has been made through the Initiative. Five of the 11 CCI countries and territories have already met or exceeded their 20-by-20 goal: the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Dominican Republic, via an unprecedented Presidential Decree, declared 31 new protected areas totaling just over 3.2 million acres, which will protect coral reefs, sharks and sea turtles. The Bahamas expanded Andros West Side National Park from 882,000 acres to nearly 1.3 million acres, which includes important fish habitat and mangrove forests. St. Kitts and Nevis declared a new protected area that encompasses a 2-mile radius around the entire island nation and includes 60% of its nearshore marine shelf. And Haiti declared nearly 260,000 acres in new protected areas, bringing the country just over its 20% goal.
This progress is exciting and promising as the first-of-its-kind goal of the CCI gains substantial ground—but time is of the essence. To learn more about the CCI, visit www.caribbeanchallengeinitiative.org or help the Conservancy support the CCI.