Financing Protected Areas is a challenge all countries are facing. Governments are under constant pressure to deliver benefits for the people, enhance actions for poverty alleviation and promote development. Therefore, in order to increase resources for Protected Areas it is key to bring together conservation and development objectives as well as other international and national key issues. Protected Areas provide all types of ecosystem services that are directly linked to social and economic benefits for society. However, we have not been successful in communicating these values in order to position PA conservation and management as part of the national development agenda. Furthermore, there is a need to assess the funding gap for PA at the national level in order to identify major gaps and develop financing strategies.
Bringing agendas together is key for increasing resources mobilization and financing for PA. The National Commission for Protected Areas-CONANP in Mexico has developed a Strategy for PA Financing based on a funding gap assessment as well as other opportunities for increasing resource mobilization. The strategy identified three main sources for increasing PA funding: (1) increasing government budget for the conservation and management of PA, (2) increasing other sources of government funding to promote sustainable development and enhance opportunities for local communities and (2) increase funding through international sources cooperation, and collaboration with the private and social sector. Furthermore, Mexico has been working in order to bring together conservation agendas with other global issues such as climate change. This has opened a new window of opportunity for resource mobilization with new stakeholders, both domestic and international, and has allowed for positioning PA not only as a mean for biodiversity conservation but also as a strategy for climate change mitigation and adaptation, risk reduction strategies and poverty alleviation.
Under a global context of limited resources, there is a strong need to change the way PA agencies traditionally access funding. More and more, conservation needs to be understood also as a means to address other development challenges such as climate change, social development, conservation and sustainable use of the natural capital, etc. Furthermore, assessing the national funding gap for PA and developing a funding strategy has proven to be beneficial when negotiating new funding for projects from al sources.
Mexico has increased international funding in the past three years to more than US$100 million targeted to deliver results on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, maintenance of ecosystem services, connectivity, governance, priority species management and sustainable development for local communities. Efforts for mainstream PA into a wider development agenda proves to be an effective strategy for increasing financing for PA.