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Small Island

Conservation Finance

MPAs often fall short of conservation goals because of insufficient or unreliable financial resources to support on-the-ground management and enforcement operations, such as staff salaries, equipment, and fuel. Funding challenges are a common thread and persistent problem for MPAs around the world and undermine the success of many marine conservation efforts. Thus, an important area of research is “MPA sustainable finance” – a field of study that seeks to understand why MPAs lack sufficient, reliable funding and then generate strategies and solutions to remedy the problem.  IOCS has embraced MPA finance as a central research focus. 


MPA finance tool and application in Latin America and the Caribbean

IOCS’s Dr. John Bohórquez is a globally recognized expert in MPA finance with an interdisciplinary background in finance and economics paired with marine conservation and ecology. For his Ph.D. at IOCS-SoMAS, John developed a replicable tool for MPA practitioners to assess their financial strategies and identify pathways forward to achieve financial sustainability. The tool was created after rigorous research of a subset of MPAs in Latin America and the Caribbean, principally in Colombia, Belize, and the Caribbean Netherlands. Deep investigation of these case studies resulted in a series of practical recommendations for these MPAs including how to make more effective use of current financial resources, how to elevate or strengthen the MPA, and developing ‘best-fit’ alternative financial mechanisms for each site.  The work also provided important perspectives for MPA finance at large and has been presented at several conferences in the United States and abroad.

Developing a financial sustainability assessment tool for Marine Protected Areas

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Other publications and outputs

John, Ellen Pikitch, and other colleagues at Stony Brook University, New York University, and the University of British Columbia recently published part of this tool in a peer reviewed journal. The paper includes case study results for an MPA in Colombia, Parque Nacional Natural Corales de Profundidad, that protects deep-water and mesophotic corals in the Caribbean.


Prior to that, the IOCS team published a paper comparing financing in marine versus terrestrial protected areas, and another analyzing a global database of MPAs categorizing them by attributes. Several other publications on the financing of MPAs are in progress. 


Ellen, John, and Christine’s policy work, including the Rome 2016 call to action for MPAs, incorporated MPA finance as a core theme for achieving UN SDG 14.5 to protect 10% of the ocean by 2020.  Ellen and John also advised on the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.  


Other areas of Conservation Finance 


IOCS maintains a working relationship with the Conservation Finance Alliance, where John sits on the marine and coastal finance working group. John also worked with CFA on the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, which seeks to invest $625 million in conservation of climate resilient coral reefs over the next decade.  John and CFA developed the fund’s investment plan and continue to provide technical support. 


Bohorquez, J.J., Dvarskas, A., Jacquet, J., Sumaila, U.R., Nye, J., Pikitch, E.K., 2022, A New Tool to Evaluate, Improve, and Sustain Marine Protected Area Financing Built on a Comprehensive Review of Finance Sources and Instruments. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8(742846). 


Victurine, R., Cripps, S., Meyers, D., Bohorquez, J., (in progress) Sustainable Financing for Coral Reefs. Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation Finance Alliance. 


Bohorquez, J.J., Bryce, B., Battacharyya, K., Leone, S.D., Bardoux, P., Philip, M., Grimsditch, G., Meyers, D., An Integrated Blended Finance Fund for Coral Reefs. 2021 YISF Symposium, Yale University. October 29th, 2021. 


Besancon, C., Marcus, T., Bohorquez, J., Meyers, D., 2021. Protected Area Finance Capacity Needs: Results of a Global Survey. Conservation Finance Alliance, Global Park Solutions. 

Meyers, D., Battacharyya, K., Bray, B., Bohorquez, J., Leone, S., 2021. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs: Investment Plan 2021. Conservation Finance Alliance. 

Meyers, D., Bohorquez, J., Cumming, T., Emerton, L., v.d. Heuvel, O., Riva, M., Swanson, E., and Victurne, R. Conservation Finance: A Framework. Conservation Finance Alliance, March 2020,  

Bohorquez, J.J., Dvarskas, A., Pikitch, E., 2019. Categorizing Global MPAs: A cluster analysis approach. Marine Policy. 108. 


Bohorquez, J.J., Dvarskas, A., Pikitch, E., (2019) Filling the data gap – a pressing need for advancing MPA sustainable finance. Frontiers in Marine Science. 6:45. 1-14. 

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