In this master thesis research project, Annelies Sewell (intern at Wolfs Company), applies the Eco2Fin tool to the Bonaire National Marine Park in order to identify financing mechanisms to increase the financial sustainability of this protected area. The Eco2Fin tool is a framework developed by Wolfs Company, which uses an ecosystem services approach to identify sustainable finance mechanisms within the context of a protected area (see Webinar Sustainable Financing for MPAs, for a detailed presentation of this tool and its applications).
In her research project, Annelies used the Eco2Fin tool to identify key obstacles that limit the effectiveness of financing mechanisms in the island (i.e. environmental, political, administrative, financial, legal, social), and to evaluate to what extent the tool can be practically useful to decision-makers. The tool delivered 4 feasible mechanisms; user fees, cruise ship head tax, BES fund and the one single tax, but also identified their underlying obstacles – mainly political and administrative/ communicative. The results of this project show that a holistic approach to developing a sustainable financing strategy, as provided by this tool, is key, as contextual factors play an important role in determining feasibility of finance mechanisms. The thesis also concludes that whilst the tool is not a cure in itself, it can be a useful and practical method while developing a sustainable financing strategy for MPAs or nature conservation in general.