Jamaica Dollar-a-Day Initiative

CATS assists the Jamaican Marine Managed Areas (MMAs) towards demonstrable success of the “Dollar A Day” (DAD) site level financing mechanism, to help make the paradigm shift to the resource conversion business approach to Sustainable Financing for management (SFM) of MMAs.

A 2013 TNC’s Willingness to Pay Survey which showed that “(54%) visitors would be willing to pay an additional US$ 5 to US$ 20 to help protect Jamaica’s environment” supports the conclusion that each year, millions of dollars ‘willing to be paid’ remain uncollected while MMAs firefight to keep their doors open and their boats on the water.

The CATS Programme has identified, partnerships and a business-like approach to resource conversion as the two critical components of SFM of MMAs, that are underpinned by the focus on enhancing the interests and livelihoods of the users, through promoting their central role in the sustainable management of the resources. This inclusive approach that involves stakeholders in the ownership of the management objectives reduces the risk of users feeling alienated and is likely to enhance political popularity and support, rather than foster reservation and resistance.

The additional revenues from this approach will reduce the demand on the national budget and NSPA’s trust funds; the profits of private sector partners are likely to be enhanced by visitors having a more favourable experience in a better managed environment. Much more of the operational cost of running the MMAs will be met by users’ and stakeholders’ voluntary payments and support.

The DAD initiative successfully implemented in the selected MMAs, is intended to catalyse a more user and business focused approach to the SFM of these MMAs, as the government seeks finalise its protected areas’ plan and strategy for the entire country.

Historically in Jamaica, as in most coastal regions worldwide, the resource management focus of the international donor community has been centred on the conservation of biodiversity, reflecting an altruistic conservationist approach, more affordable and akin to circumstances in developed countries. There highly industrialised economies and markets with large urban centres isolate the consumers from direct contact with the natural resources; the much higher standard of living also allows “protected areas” to be larger and more exclusive as the surrounding communities are not directly dependent on the natural resources. In addition these wealthier states can afford to more effectively enforce the boarders of these exclusive zones.

Protectionism remains the dominant syntax in the language of the donor community as far as natural resources management goes, this has placed the government of Jamaica in an invidious position of tapping into the funding needed for operationalising MMAs from the global conservation community while leaving the window open for the exploitation of these very resources that require “conservation”. The pragmatism of government has contributed to its ambivalence towards protected areas’ development.

It is not only government stakeholders who are ambivalent in their attitude and response to the protectionist biodiversity wrapping around the use of these high value areas; many hoteliers, fishers and other major players in marine and coastal areas, share this reservation and to some extent see protected areas as an unwanted and restrictive imposition. This distancing of the major resource users such as the shippers, hoteliers and watersports tour operators from the objectives and necessity of management, undermines the partnerships essential to SFM support at the site level.

The result is that significant potential revenues and support for meeting the operational cost of MMAs remain untapped. This is in the context of increasing costs for management and enforcement as the expanding tourism industry generates greater impact and more alienated users, many of whom ignore the regulations in favour of their immediate interests.

This ‘political problem’ constitutes one of “the main underlying barriers” to SFM of the NSPA, which needs to be addressed. The CATS Programme seeks to do this by immediate and local application of business principles to revenue generation, necessary to meet the cost of management operations of these high value natural assets. The value of these areas is not in dispute; tourism which generates 50% of Jamaica’s export earning “depends directly on the quality of protected areas …, good coastal water quality provided by healthy forests and wetlands”... and more “than 90% of the Jamaica‘s tourist destinations are concentrated within and around protected areas” (UNDP).

Therefore a new paradigm for SFM has to be found in resource conversion and not, resource conservation. According to the financial analysis presented in the Sustainable Financing Plan for the Protected Areas System Master Plan (PASMP), “every dollar invested in the protected area system would generate $100 additional dollars to the Jamaican economy”. One of the objectives of the CATS Programme is to find the modalities to convert this investment opportunity into support for the sustainable financial management of the MMAs.

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