The Regional Activity Centre for the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife for the Wider Caribbean Region
Caribbean Environment Program
DEAL Guadeloupe
United Nations Environment Programme
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Marine protected areas: Caribbean Challenge Initiative

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Caribbean Challenge

I. General information

Project initiator: NGO “The Nature Conservancy” (TNC)

Partners (non-exhaustive list): UNEP, UNDP, GLISPA

Project objective: Creating and/or consolidating MPAs up to 20% of the EEZs and durable funding

Participating countries : The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint-Kitts and Nevis

Funding: Multiple: TNC, GEF, World Bank, countries (notably Germany and Italy), associations and international foundations

Amount: 40 million US dollars allocated to the Trust fund, and more than 10 million US dollars to onsite actions

Contact :
The Nature Conservancy, Caribbean Programme


II. Description

The overall project

The Caribbean Challenge is a large-scale project spurred on by TNC, who has invested 20 million dollars in return for a commitment from Caribbean countries to support and manage new and existing protected areas. The objective is ambitious: member countries must protect 20% of their marine and coastal habitats by 2020. The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint-Lucia, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda as well as Saint-Kitts and Nevis are already involved in the project. The objectives include the following:

  • To help countries fulfil their commitments regarding the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Programme of Work on Protected Areas and their regional commitment within the framework of the Cartagena Convention and the SPAW Protocol;

  • To legally protect a minimum of 5 million hectares of marine habitats and efficiently manage at least 2 million hectares of new or existing marine management areas, including marine protected areas;

  • To guarantee durable funding for these national protected area systems via the creation of a national trust for protected areas and a corresponding policy, as well as through other financial conservation systems such as duties from tourism and protected area development, environmental taxes, etc. 

  • To create demonstration sites presenting the best conservation and management practices, for reproduction in the greater Caribbean region.

GEF projects for member countries

A number of countries involved in the Caribbean Challenge have been granted GEF funds. There are therefore four GEF projects supporting the Caribbean Challenge:

  1. Durable funding and management of marine ecosystems in the Eastern Caribbean”  (in 5 countries belonging to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) ;

  2. Building a Sustainable National Marine protected area network for the Bahamas”;

  3. Rethinking the National Marine protected area system to reach Financial Sustainability – Dominican Republic”

  4. Strengthening the operational and financial sustainability of the National Protected area system in Jamaica”.

Schematically, the Caribbean Challenge will follow two main lines, found in each of the GEF projects below:

  • setting up regional and national trust funds in order to guarantee long-term funding for the creation and management of protected areas;

  • developing actions onsite in order to create new and improve the management of existing protected areas.

The UNEP-CEP support project

To support this second guideline, UNEP-CEP is coordinating a project funded by the Italian governmental, entitled: “Regional support for the Caribbean Challenge initiative: Networking, consolidation and regional coordination of MPA management”.

Project amount: 1.5 million US dollars

Implementation : CaMPAM

This project, scheduled to last two years, focuses mainly on countries involved in the Caribbean Challenge, without excluding other Caribbean countries. The aim is to support the elaboration of a biologically-representative, functional network of marine protected areas (MPA), capable of adapting to climate change in coherence with the Protocol objectives on specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW) of the Cartagena Convention and those of the GLISPA initiative.

The main activities, developed in cooperation with the Network and the Caribbean Marine Protected Areas Management forum (CaMPAM), include the following:

  • Helping countries to develop their national MPA networks and supporting, when conditions allow, the creation of biologically-representative networks and/or sub-regional and cross-border corridors;

  • Improving capacities for a more efficient MPA management, notably through targeted training courses, guidance and onsite visits looking at the needs and problems common to all MPAs in the Caribbean (including, if need be, sites in other regions included in GLISPA objectives);

  • Organising coordination meetings in order to agree on common approaches to adopt for MPA elaboration and management, including those concerning MPA networks;

  • Setting up a regular regional liaison system, including communication and publication tools;

  • Harmonising monitoring as well as ecological and socioeconomic MPA efficiency indicators (taking into account international initiatives such as GLISPA);


III. News

  • Coordination meetings. Two CCI coordination meetings involving the eight participating governments were held to provide opportunities for government officials to report on progress in each of their countries, to update officials on the status of the CBF, to share information across countries, and to discuss potential elements of a second phase of the CCI. The meetings were held in Puerto Morales, Mexico (November 2011) and Grenada (October 2011). 
  • Summit. At these two coordination meetings, governments discussed the idea of a CCI Summit of Political and Business Leaders in late 2012, which could be designed to galvanize new conservation and funding commitments on the marine and coastal environment, and to launch new public - private partnerships. 
  • Caribbean Biodiversity Fund. Significant progress was made toward formal establishment of the CBF, including finalizing a set of legal documents to govern its operations. The CBF is expected to be legally established as a UK charity within weeks, and a number of steps are planned for 2012 to make it an operational trust fund that can start to channel funding to CCI countries in early 2013. 
  • GEF project for Eastern Caribbean. An $8.75 million GEF project, which will be executed by TNC, was formally approved in September 2011 and will support protected areas conservation in five Eastern Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines). One of the main activities is to support sustainable financing – including capitalization of the CBF and establishment of the National Protected Area Trust Funds that will receive CBF resources.