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
The absence of a relationship between entrepreneurship ecosystems, conservation and commercial capital in the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) is a barrier to the development of commercially viable ventures with a positive impact on the coastal and marine ecosystems of the region. Without these relations, the gap in capital required for conservation and restoration of coral and related ecosystems will not be closed.
MAR+Invest is a multi-stakeholder approach that develops and finances enterprises that generate coral positive outcomes and market returns.
This initiative, funded by the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, will carry out calls for proposals to identify potential market initiatives in different stages of development, with a reef positive end result in the MAR. The first call for proposals will focus on identifying revenue generating interventions in 18 Coastal and Marine Protected Areas (CMPA) previously prioritized in the region.
MAR+Invest will be carried out in three phases:
The inception phase for MAR+Invest will establish the technical assistance facility (MARTAF), managed by MAR Fund, and the Financing Facility, managed by New Ventures.
MAR+Invest impact will be monitored and evaluated by Healthy Reefs Initiative. In addition, a capacity building program (Build & Connect) to generate enabling conditions for coral investment in the MAR with local governments, investors, incubators and CMPAs will be developed by the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature and its MAR-Leadership program.
2. The GFCR Executive Board Approves Programmes for the Mesoamerican Reef Region and Indonesia
The GFCR Executive Board Approves Programmes for the Mesoamerican Reef Region and Indonesia
Mar 10, 2022 GFCR Secretariat
New York, 10 March 2022 – The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) Executive Board has approved two long-term programmes in Mesoamerican Reef region and Indonesia. These new decisions resulting from the fifth Executive Board meeting grow the GFCR’s portfolio to more than $30,000,000 USD of approved resources to support catalytic reef-positive interventions in climate-resilient coral reef strongholds.
The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) programme, ‘MAR+Invest’, is a business development and finance facility with the objective of attracting diverse sources of capital to develop and finance market-based solutions with a positive impact on coral reefs in the region through reduction of threats, conservation, and restoration. MAR+Invest led by MAR Fund, convenes a partnership of organizations from the MAR countries, including New Ventures and Viwala, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza (Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature), and Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative. The programme partners bring together diverse expertise on conservation, monitoring, capacity building, conservation finance, innovation, and impact investment sectors that will:
- Find, incubate, accelerate and finance sustainable solutions that demand diverse types of capital and technical assistance – including new sources of revenue for coastal and marine protected areas (CMPAs) as well as livelihoods for local communities;
- Develop financial mechanisms blending resources from governments, investors, and philanthropic donors to manage risk, close early-stage capital gaps and secure financing for all stages of enterprise development;
- Monitor, evaluate and demonstrate the reef-positive impact of the solutions; and
- Generate enabling conditions in the region to attract investment, influence reef-positive public policy and foster solutions.
MAR+Invest will also build on MAR Fund’s existing Emergency Fund to enable an effective response to major shocks.
For Carlos Vijil, President of MAR Fund, the Convening Agent of MAR+Invest, stated the “GFCR is the enabler that allows the creation and structuring of MAR+Invest so local actors can bridge the gap between conservation and investment through innovative market approaches that address the challenges faced by the largest transboundary coral reef ecosystem and generate revenue.”
As a second decision, the Fund’s Executive Board approved the first programme for Indonesia. Focused on Eastern Indonesia, a region home to some of the largest and most biologically diverse coral reefs in the world. Terumbu Karang Sehat Indonesia (TeKSI) is a multi-year programme that seeks to reinforce and strengthen the protection of coral reef ecosystems through blended investments in inclusive, equitable, reef-positive livelihood and economic development. Building on a decades long track record of successful marine conservation investments in Indonesia, the TeKSI programme is led by Conservation International (CI) and Yayasan Konservasi Cakrawala Indonesia (Konservasi Indonesia), CI’s partner in Indonesia. The programme will leverage the sustainable financing expertise of Conservation International Ventures LLC (CI Ventures) an impact-first investment vehicle and pioneer in blue economy investment. Through collaboration with a network of local and global public, private and financial sector partners, the programme aims to:
- Replicate proven public-private marine protected area (MPA) financing and revenue models that support effective coral reef and marine area management and enforcement while creating employment opportunities for local stewardship of marine resources;
- Incubate and accelerate investments in enterprises, projects and business models at multiple scales that promote recovery, development and sustainable growth of reef-positive industries and local economies and advance national and regional blue economy development objectives.
Meizani Irmadhiany, Chair of the Board of Konservasi Indonesia stated: “Indonesia represents among the most significant opportunities for global coral reef conservation and resilience. Through the support of the GFCR, TeKSI seeks to mobilize and deploy blended financing at multiple scales and through multiple modalities to promote the mutually reinforcing objectives of coral protection, economic recovery, and inclusive, equitable reef-positive development and sustainable livelihoods in Indonesia.”
The newly issued decisions signify the GFCR coalition’s growing leadership in closing the ‘Coral Reef Funding Gap’ and a continuing contribution to solutions that support adaptation and resilience for local coastal communities.
The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) is the first and only blended finance initiative dedicated to coral reefs globally. The public-private partnership is driven by foundations, Member States, UN agencies, organizations, and the private sector. The GFCR Coalition includes the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; Prince Albert II Monaco Foundation; the governments of Germany, France, Canada, and the United Kingdom; the Green Climate Fund; Pegasus Capital Advisors; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF); and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
1. 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