Blue Action Fund celebrates five years of financing the protection of marine and coastal areas | D+C

Blue Action Fund draws a positive balance sheet in an impact report marking its fifth anniversary. The nonprofit foundation promotes marine and coastal protected areas and works to secure the livelihoods of coastal communities. In pursuit of this objective, it provides targeted funding to non-governmental organizations active in developing countries.

Blue Action Fund (see my article on the D+C/E+Z platform) reports having so far invested 43 million euros in 17 projects, designating or securing more than 350,000 square kilometers of marine protected areas (MPAs ). This has directly benefited over 225,000 people on the coasts of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Pacific. Beneficiaries include fishers, MPA management teams and other users of marine resources.

The projects supported by the Blue Action Fund (BAF) are responses to the global environmental and climate crisis. These include initiatives to address dramatic declines in marine biodiversity, increase resilience to climate change and create sustainable livelihoods for local communities.

The foundation points out that the world’s oceans have enormous potential to mitigate climate change. However, less than 1% of global official development assistance is currently used to fund marine conservation, says the BAF and aims to “fill this huge funding gap”. Established by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the KfW Development Bank, it receives additional funding from the Swedish, French and Norwegian governments as well as the Green Climate Fund.

One of the BAF-funded projects is the Primeiras and Segundas Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA), which stretches 200 kilometers along the Mozambican coast. The marine area includes coral islands with uniquely rich marine fauna and mangrove forests that provide valuable ecosystem services. According to the BAF report, environmental organization WWF is using the funding – totaling €3 million – for measures to protect the PSEPA and create new livelihoods for coastal fishing communities.

WWF is working with government authorities and local stakeholders to establish a functioning marine management structure. This includes deploying “community guards” to monitor compliance with the rules. The BAF reports that the number of rangers has increased from 9 to 24. They are responsible for, among other things, preventing illegal fishing, poaching and the cutting of mangroves.

These activities are a major problem in the coastal region and are largely driven by local poverty, the report says. The WWF project is therefore also designed to promote sustainable fisheries management practices and sensitize local communities to sustainable management. The organization has established 77 farmer field schools in 19 communities as well as 217 village savings and loan groups. According to the report, the latter include nearly 3,000 women – who are the subject of special attention – and generated savings totaling US$114,452.

In Farmer Field Schools, residents learn to protect and sustainably manage fish nurseries and mangroves. This in turn improves fishermen’s catches and increases the income of local communities.

Another marine conservation project supported by BAF is located around Cocos Island in Costa Rica. Located hundreds of kilometers off the country’s Pacific coast, the marine area is home to more than 1,600 species of marine flora and fauna.

BAF reports that a lot has already been achieved with the €3.7 million funding granted to the Cocos Island project – especially winning the support of national authorities as well as many implementing partners. Additionally, the MPA around Cocos Island has been extended by 150,000 square kilometres, meaning that more than 30% of Costa Rican waters are now protected.

Impact report – 5 years of blue action:

Sabine Balk is a member of the editorial staff of D+C Development and Cooperation / E+Z Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit.

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