The aim of the MedFund project is to contribute to the long-term management of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas by strengthening their financial sustainability through the establishment of an environmental fund (or “trust fund”) financing mechanism. It is a unique and innovative financial tool but also a political dialogue tool for the Mediterranean basin countries and stakeholders with a very high potential of evolution to provide multiple services to MPAs such as covering their operating costs.
This ‘trust fund’ will help to better manage the MPAs of the participating countries and of the Mediterranean region insofar as well-managed MPAs can help reduce poverty and improve well-being.
The Mediterranean basin is identified as a biodiversity hot spot and a global priority ecoregion. For now, the Mediterranean has 1,231 MPAs covering 7.14% of its area. Overall, Mediterranean MPAs are underfunded and/or funded discontinuously, which severely limits their effectiveness and many MPAs face operational difficulties in functioning, particularly in non-European countries. Currently, the financial resources of the MPAs come mainly from national public funds dedicated to the creation and management of MPAs, bilateral cooperation funds (German, Spanish, French …), regional (European Union, UNEP/WFP) and international (Global Environment Fund), private companies or foundations (MAVA Foundation, Albert II Foundation of Monaco, …), and self-financing for certain MPAs. Nonetheless, these funds are marked by significant unpredictability, short-term and high irregularity.
In this context, the MedFund project aims to contribute to the long-term management of Mediterranean MPAs by strengthening their financial sustainability through the establishment of an environmental fund (or “trust fund”)/financing mechanism.
The founding members of the environmental fund are France, Monaco, and Tunisia. Since then, Morocco, Albania and Spain have joined the initiative. With a total budget of 14 364 920 million Euros among which 8 369 002 € are contributions and 5 995 918 € are co-financing, the already existing initiative is a 4-year project 100% funded by the promoter and member countries. The priority for Fund assistance is given to MPAs from the South and East shores of the Mediterranean countries and, in the end, the objective is to create an Environmental Fund that will operate throughout the Mediterranean basin through different steps and activities which are the following: laying the groundwork, establishing and structuring an environmental fund for Mediterranean MPAs; mobilizing the financial resources needed to capitalize the Fund from both public and private financial partners; financing, in a pilot phase, the first support for Mediterranean MPAs; developing partnerships, communicating around the initiative; and moderating the development of the initiative.
The beneficiaries of the Fund are mainly the managers of MPAs, NGOs, local associations and the bordering populations of the Mediterranean MPAs. On the other hand, fishing and tourism activities are often the main sources of market profits from MPAs. Income from the Fund helps to finance the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services on which local communities depend for their livelihoods and food security. Thus, it will improve fish catches, create new jobs (mainly in the tourism sector), and it will also benefit women by strengthening their economic and social power as the population of the Mediterranean depends largely on the benefits of coastal and marine ecosystems. Moreover, the fund aims to support approaches involving civil society in general in the planning and management of marine resources. Support for MPA governance activities is one of the key activities that the Fund intends to support over the long term. More specifically, the initiative aims to support joint management between an NGO and a public institution, as it is the case in the Kuriat Islands in Tunisia.
The initiative’s intervention strategy is then based on complementarity and synergy with other initiatives and projects ongoing in the Mediterranean. It is particularly useful to point out that the General Assembly of the Association brings together most of the Mediterranean organizations in charge of these projects and that the MedFund project is part of one of the strategic objectives of the UfM, which is to protect the Mediterranean Sea and its environment and to promote the blue economy.
Up to now, since its creation, the initiative has operated on the basis of the subsidies it has acquired in order to assist MPAs. An investment strategy is currently being considered to establish future choices in terms of fund investments. The financial portfolio will consist of an endowment fund, an amortization fund and a revolving fund.
About the promoter and partner institutions
Created in 2015, the Association for Sustainable Financing of Mediterranean MPAs, is a non-profit organization based in Monaco. It aims to mobilise public and private stakeholders to promote the development and sustainable management of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The Association is a platform for cooperation aimed at creating an environmental fund-type financing mechanism. It is composed of States that have confirmed their commitment to an ambitious policy for MPAs and explicitly expressed their support for the initiative (so far, Albania, France, Morocco, Monaco, Tunisia and Spain), regional organizations involved in the conservation of Mediterranean marine and coastal ecosystems (RAC/ASP, MedPAN, WWF-Mediterranean, IUCN-Mediterranean, Conservatoire du Littoral, Initiative Petites Iles de Méditerranée, etc.), from the Prince Albert II Foundation of Monaco and the Oceanographic Institute, Albert I Foundation, Prince of Monaco. The Association thus aims to develop and to improve sustainably the management of Mediterranean MPAs by contributing to their financial autonomy and territorial integration.