Strengthening the involvement of the private sector in biodiversity conservation
Title: Business and Biodiversity in Central America and Dominican Republic
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Central America and Dominican Republic
Lead executing agency: Secretary General of the Central American Integration System (SG-SICA)
Overall term: 2014 to 2019
Although Central America makes up only one per cent of the Earth’s surface, it is home to approximately eight per cent of the world’s biological diversity. This diversity of species, also known as biodiversity, is under severe threat – for example from overexploitation, climate change and the deforestation of tropical rain forests for agricultural use.
The Central American states have reacted to the threats to biodiversity by developing regional political measures and have established important institutional structures at national and regional levels. However, the desired change cannot be achieved solely through public programmes. It is imperative for the private sector to be actively involved if international conventions are to be implemented successfully. The sectors tourism and agriculture play an important role in the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity.
The private sector in Central America and the Dominican Republic is more actively engaged in the sustainable use of biodiversity.
To involve private-sector companies more systematically in protecting biodiversity, the programme supports the activities of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) and those of the Central American Integration System (SICA). This involves the implementation of the sections of the Regional Environmental Framework Strategy 2015 to 2020 that cover biodiversity and corporate action.
Furthermore, the programme is enabling a range of services to be offered to the private sector, which includes access to financing instruments and the provision of funding for development partnerships, for example. In this way the programme supports entrepreneurs’ networks such as the regional platform ‘Biodiversity Partnership Mesoamerica’. Its members are corporations and companies from the region, civil society organisations, scientific institutions and the CCAD. Its website provides information about the international legislative framework and presents case studies and international tools for the protection of biodiversity.
A total of 29 development partnerships have already been set up in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The participating companies alone have invested around three million euros in the sustainable use and protection of biodiversity. Significant contributions have also come from civil society, scientific institutions and public donors.
Examples would be two development partnerships that receive support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The project ‘Sustainable Banana” was designed in cooperation with the German firm Cobana Fruchtring. The project makes companies aware of sustainable production methods which go beyond the standard certifications in banana cultivation: "Biodiversity in action Costa Rica”: Costa Rica’ is a development partnership promoted by the German tour operator travel-to-nature. The project aims at establishing a biological corridor between the forest area of a hotel and the adjacent private nature reserve through reforestation.
A multi-stakeholder alliance cofinanced by the European Union that has members from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Haiti supports private sector involvement in measures to protect biodiversity in coastal areas. Private companies are restoring and diversifying coral reefs and developing sustainable excursions, for example biodiversity-friendly kayak trips.
The project has also developed a flexible tool called the Biodiversity Check for improving biodiversity management in private companies. In the field of tourism, the Check has already been used in 31 companies. For example, based on the Check, a hotel in Honduras approved an action plan including the reforestation of mangroves and improved waste management.
In the agricultural sector, the Biodiversity Check can be applied both by small-scale producers and by industrial firms. Fifteen small-scale growers of the fibre plant abaca have used the Check to develop action plans to improve biodiversity protection in their cultivation processes. At present the ‘Biodiversity Check Agrícola‘ is being validated for the use in larger agricultural companies.