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Open Call for Marine Protected Area Finance Innovation Concepts

Duration of Open Call: 2 weeks, starting 4 May 2023 ending 18 May 2023, 17:00 ET  


Currently, approximately 18,000 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs) cover around 7.65% of the ocean. Of this, approximately one third offer a high degree of protection. The funding gap facing MPA/LMMA management is immense.  

In December of 2022, the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) member states agreed to a set of goals and targets to address the dangerous loss of biodiversity and restore natural ecosystems. Significantly, Target 3 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) aims to effectively conserve 30% of coastal and marine areas through protected areas by 2030 (‘30×30’). 

Currently, MPA funding is derived predominantly from domestic government budget allocations, grants, and user fees. Although user/tourism fees are feasible in some areas, they are often not viable options for many sites, such as remote areas lacking infrastructure for tourism. Further, tourism itself can lead to coral reef degradation.  

Launched in September of 2020, the Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) is the first blended finance instrument globally designed to unlock private finance for the scaling of reef-positive enterprises and innovative financial models. The GFCR Theory of Change specifically mandates “well-managed Marine Protected Areas” through innovative revenue streams as a key output for the protection of priority coral reef sites.  Further, as stated in the GFCR Terms of Reference (TOR), “Annual capital expenditures (US$/yr) for strengthened management and enforcement capacities of MPA and LMMA networks” serves a key indicator, as “Investments in MPA and LMMA networks necessitates management plans and teams, boats and equipment for enforcement patrol, and communication material for community engagement in coral reef conservation.”  Among the potential revenue streams mentioned included are ecotourism user fees, debt-for-nature/adaptation swaps, eco-resorts, special use permits, visitor centers, biodiversity offsets, blue carbon credits, impact bonds, patents provision of legal advice and expertise, sale and storage of seeds and fragments, as well as coral farming. 

The GFCR Theory of Change further places emphasis on [Outcome 4] “Recovery of coral reef-dependent communities in the face of major shocks and insecurity”. Within this outcome mandate, the TOR further notes “MPAs management authorities in many regions are struggling to pay staff, a problem compounded by regional loss of livelihoods and disruption of supply chains leading to more people fishing unsustainably in protected areas to feed their families and generate income. To mitigate this issue the GFCR will implement initiatives that apply a diverse set of business models in various sectors to avoid overreliance on tourism to fund conservation efforts.” 

The full GFCR Theory of Change is available for review here: 

Purpose/Objectives of the Open Call  

The purpose of this Open Call is to invite eligible non-profit and private sector actors with investment/market-based solutions to submit concepts that will help coral nations to scale up funding for MPAs/LMMAs. Specifically, the GFCR aims to identify new innovative enterprises, financial vehicles, mechanisms that diversify sustainable revenue for MPAs/LMMAs. 

Sought Open Call submissions will aim to showcase how highly valuable and underfunded MPAs/LMMAs can be connected to new streams of finance through local, regional or global-level enterprises, vehicles, mechanisms, or projects. Prioritized MPAs should host globally significant biodiversity, identified funding deficiencies, high value of ecosystem services, and presence of climate-resilient coral reefs.  

Applications should specifically identify how the potential funding support of new innovative enterprises, financial vehicles, mechanisms, and/or projects will be positioned catalytically, e.g., lead to a greater mobilisation of public and private resources for MPAs and/or LMMAs.  

Further, emphasis is placed on the need to identify MPA/LMMA resource mobilization opportunities for remote areas without the need to cause additional influxes of human traffic to pristine sites. 

Expected outputs/deliverables 

Establishment and/or strengthening of global, regional and/or local LMMA/MPA financing enterprises, financial vehicles, mechanisms, and/or projects 

Funding Information  

GFCR financing is provided in the form of grants, reimbursable grants or loans through global/regional or country programmes. These instruments can be applied for stand-alone or blended as relevant. The proposal or concept must demonstrate how GFCR potential support can leverage large additional new public private financing.  


  • Applications are invited from both registered non-profit and private sector actors, including multilateral organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organizations (CSOs), private enterprises, and special purpose vehicles (SPV).    
  • Applicants must have a minimum of two years of experience relevant to their proposed intervention.  
  • Applicants showcase concrete methods for establishing and/or strengthening local, regional or global-level enterprises, vehicles, mechanisms, or projects to diversify and or increase new sustainable revenue streams for MPAs/LMMAs. 
  • Applicants show careful consideration to not distort the market conditions, in particular as concerns private sector projects. 

Submission Instructions 

Submissions must be made by 18 May 2023, 17:00 ET via: 

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