Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic contribute to achieve SDG 14 (Life below water) and SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities).
Coral reefs host up to 25% of the total marine biodiversity and they are natural carbon reservoirs, thus contributing to reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In addition to this, they provide food and several tourist activities are developed in their framework. However, reefs’ natural balance has been severely affected by human activities such as oil exploitation, overfishing and excessive marine tourism (Fernández, Laura, 2021).
Although individual and collective measures could be adopted to help protect coral reefs —and even recover those that have already been affected— in many cases, the current damage requires national or regional policies and programs, and the provision of significant financial resources, as well as the involvement of different stakeholders in the process.
Being aware of this problem, Germany, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic joined efforts in the framework of the Regional Fund for Triangular Cooperation in Latin-America and the Caribbean, through the project “Developing an Innovative Financial Mechanism for the Conservation of Coral Reefs in the Dominican Republic”. One of the aims of this initiative was to measure reefs’ economic contribution in order to implement actions for their preservation and to include private sector investment in the services provided by these ecosystems.
To achieve this, GIZ developed an economic valuation of the ecosystem services of coral reefs in Bayahíbe, Punta Cana and Samaná, and this research concluded that they generate about USD 1,142,274.123 per year for the Dominican economy, which reveals the importance of protecting and restoring these environments (Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development of the Dominican Republic, MEPyD by its Spanish acronym, 2021).
In turn, the National System of Conservation Areas of Costa Rica (SINAC by its Spanish acronym) has become a strategic partner for capacity building in this area and, since 2017, has been sharing its experience with this Caribbean country in policy development for the protection and sustainable management of natural resources. The Payment for Environmental Services scheme (PES by its Spanish acronym), implemented since 1996, is an example of the above (Diario Libre, 2019).
One of the main features of this initiative was the involvement of the private sector, promoting co-responsibility in the provision of resources for the preservation of biodiversity affected by agricultural expansion and tourism (important economic activities in the Dominican Republic). Indeed, the project included the participation of Biodiversity Partnership Mesoamerica (BPM), a multi-sectoral association for the conservation of Mesoamerica’s biological wealth, supporting the private sector in the integration of biodiversity in the economic activity (BPM, 2022).
In October 2021, authorities of the two countries and GIZ presented the project’s results, among which the valorization of ecosystem services, awareness-raising in the private sector in pilot sites such as Bayahíbe, Punta Cana and Samaná, the communication strategy for knowledge management, the systematization of lessons learnt and dissemination, as well as the creation of means and tools to replicate best practices, were especially highlighted (MEPyD, 2021).
Photograph: Triangular Cooperation Project between the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Germany, “Developing an Innovative Financial Mechanism for the Conservation of Coral Reefs in the Dominican Republic”. 2017-2021