What is MAR+Invest?
MAR+Invest is a business development and financing mechanism that supports conservation, protection and restoration of coral reefs and associated ecosystems through the development and financing of commercially viable projects that deliver on coral reef positive outcomes.
The objective of MAR+invest is to unlock private investment in coral conservation in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) ecoregion. Investments will be delivered via market-based solutions that will:
- Increase the financial sustainability of protected and priority areas of the MAR
- Improve livelihoods and climate resilience of coral reef-dependent communities
- Provide emergency response to major shocks
MAR+Invest is in design phase. This phase will extend until the first semester of 2022
GFCR Approves a Preparatory Grant for the Development of ‘MAR+Invest’ a Regional Programme for the Mesoamerican Reef
New York, 14 June 2021 – The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) Executive Board has approved a preparatory grant for the design of the ‘MAR+Invest’ Programme led by the Mesoamerican Reef Fund (MAR Fund). The anticipated 10-year regional Programme for the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) offers technical assistance, financing solutions, monitoring and evaluation of impact and builds communities for reef positive innovation and financing. The full MAR+Invest proposal is expected to be presented to the GFCR Executive Board in Q4 2021 followed by Programme launch in 2022.
The MAR includes the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, stretching over 625 miles (1,000 km) along the coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. The MAR’s diverse habitat is home to more than 900 species of fish, coral, mollusks, and marine mammals, including iconic species such as the hawksbill sea turtle, saltwater crocodile, goliath grouper, and the largest aggregation of whale sharks in the world. Additionally, the reef provides ecosystem services to an estimated 2 million people living in proximity to MAR sites.
Initiated in 2004, the MAR Fund mission is to drive regional funding and partnerships for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the MAR. The MAR+Invest Programme objectives build upon existing MAR Fund and partner initiatives to develop and finance market-oriented solutions that address direct and indirect causes of coral reef degradation across the four MAR countries. The Programme’s Theory of Change supports three priority outcomes:
- Outcome 1: Protected areas of the MAR are financially sustainable with established local stewards of the natural capital;
- Outcome 2: Livelihoods of coral reef dependent communities have a positive impact on coral reefs; and
- Outcome 3: MAR Emergency Fund effectively responds to major shocks.
“We believe this initiative can bridge the current disconnect between the investment and conservation ecosystems in the MAR to develop and finance enterprises that generate positive outcomes for coral reefs and market returns” expressed by María José González, of the MAR Fund.
The full MAR+Invest programme design is structured around four main units. The first, MARTAF, is a technical assistance facility managed by the MAR Fund offering pre- and post-investment support, as well as learning and knowledge sharing. MARTAF will identify and support all aspects of business development to scale up market-based solutions that deliver Programme outcomes.
The MAR+ Financing Solutions unit operates to manage and structure the financial products to be offered through the portfolio and will be implemented by New Ventures Group. The monitoring and evaluation unit led by the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI) focuses on adaptive management and will build on HRI’s existing impact assessment work in the region. The fourth unit, Build and Connect, is tied to the MAR Leadership Program, which serves as a community incubator for learning, knowledge sharing, project design and implementation.
The working pipeline presented in the MAR+Invest proposal identified opportunities that demonstrate an early estimate of commercial capital leverage of $26.5M, including a Marine Protected Area (MPA) corporate partner, shrimp industry transition, climate smart agriculture and seaweed regenerative ocean farming. Other opportunities under consideration include sewage treatment, blue carbon and a marine tourism park.
The Business Development and Finance Facility of the MAR