As part of a debt-for-nature refinancing program, the island nation of Barbados is set to unlock $50 million in funding for conservation of its entire marine ecosystem.
Barbados has committed to protect 30 percent of its territorial waters but lacks the funds to do so. Now, The Nature Conservancy has announced it will work with partners to buy a piece of Barbados’ national debt and refinance it to facilitate this goal. Releasing $50m for marine conservation in the process.
This project is the most recent in TNC’s Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation strategy, an ambitious plan to drastically scale up ocean conservation around the world.
It’s a program known simply in the conservation world as “Blue Bonds.” Essentially, it finds nations which have a lot of debt, low tax revenue, and important territorial waters, and recruits financier partners to buy outstanding debt from the previous holders and re-negotiate terms with more favourable interest rates - provided the nation spends the savings on ocean conservation.
The first mover was the island nation of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. It has established protections over a marine environment that's equivalent to twice the size of Great Britain, or 158,000 square miles, thanks to a Nature Conservancy Blue Bond finance arrangement in 2016.
“We believe that innovative debt transactions coupled with science and marine planning, like our Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation strategy, can achieve protection and improved management of more than 4 million sq.km of the planet’s ocean - a 15 percent increase in the current amount of global marine protection,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy in a statement.