WWF: Debt-for-Nature Swap to Protect Biodiversity

The largest debt-for-nature swap agreement in Madagascar’s history was signed between the government of Madagascar and the government of France, allocating roughly $20 million to preserve Madagascar’s rich biodiversity, the World Wildlife Fund announced on June 11.

“This initiative is an excellent example of innovative financing for sustainable development,” said Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana, acting regional representative for WWF in Madagascar.

“Increasing funding to the endowment of the Foundation for Protected Areas and Biodiversity means support for the protected areas' recurrent costs will be available long term. Stable and predictable revenues are critical to win the battle against deforestation and biodiversity loss in Madagascar.”

The agreement is part of Madagascar’s ambitious national effort, pledged by President Ravalomanana, to triple the size of the country’s protected areas. The funds will be managed through the Foundation for Protected Areas and Biodiversity—a conservation trust fund established by WWF, Conservation International, and the government of Madagascar to support the country’s distinct ecosystems and extraordinary wildlife. With this agreement, the fund has reached its endowment target of $50 million.

Nearly 98 percent of Madagascar’s land mammals, 92 percent of its reptiles, and 80 percent of its plants are found nowhere else on Earth. With 70 percent of Madagascar’s population living below the poverty line, the country is one of the poorest in the world. Burdened with high levels of debt, Madagascar has limited domestic resources to address environmental degradation and preserve its unique and globally significant biodiversity. Debt-for-nature swaps, such as this one, are designed to free up resources in debtor countries for much needed conservation activities.

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