The Forever Costa Rica Association is administrator of the Second Debt-for-Nature Swap between Costa Rica and the United States, a bilateral agreement for funding the consolidation of SINAC’s protected wild areas prioritized in the Forever Costa Rica Program, within the framework of a commitment assumed by the government of Costa Rica under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The thematic areas financed by the II Debt-for-Nature Swap include ecological representativeness, management effectiveness and adaptation to climate change.
This agreement is governed by the Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA), through which a developing country that has a debt with the United States, in exchange for cancellation of a part of its debt, makes a commitment to create a fund to finance projects for conservation and sustainable use of its tropical forests. The resources for this debt swap reach US$27 million.
The Oversight Committee is the highest body governing the II Debt-for-Nature Swap, made up of five institutions: the government of Costa Rica, through SINAC; the Embassy of the United States; The Nature Conservancy (TNC); EARTH University; and the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS).
Since opening of the first bid for projects in 2012, the II Debt-for-Nature Swap has awarded 40 projects for a total of ¢1,267,000,000 (equivalent to approximately US$2,534,000) of investment in conservation projects.
In addition, in September 2015, the II Swap opened the sixth call for proposals, which intends to award 18 projects, for close to ¢659,000,000,
to implement strategies to reduce threats identified in the management plans of 33 wild terrestrial protected areas.
In 2015, the II Debt-for-Nature Swap has a total of 32 eligible entities, of which three were incorporated during the 2014–2015 period by successfully and satisfactorily completing the due diligence evaluation.
Among the achievements of the 2011–2016 Strategic Plan of the II Debt-for Nature Swap that were reached during the 2014–2015 period, it is important to mention the following:
Initiative 1.2.1 “Develop strategies for adaptation to climate change in protected wild areas by conservation area.” El II Swap, together with the Forever Costa Rica Private Trust, financed a total of 25 general management plans for terrestrial protected areas, which include strategic guidelines to confront climate change; these are expected to be implemented with recurring investments to increase management effectiveness in terrestrial protected wild areas.
Initiative 2.2.2 “Continuous training in application of the Tool for Monitoring the Management Effectiveness of APS and Monitoring of the Indicators of Ecological Integrity.” More than 80 terrestrial wild areas have applied the Tool for Monitoring Management Effectiveness, updated at the end of 2014, and for which various training workshops have been held jointly with the BMU-GIZ-BIOMARCC project. Finally, with funds from the II Debt Swap, in July, for the first time in Costa Rica, implementation of a program to monitor indicators of ecological integrity was begun in 33 terrestrial protected wild areas through a donation agreement signed with CATIE.
In addition to the above, in the first semester of 2015, the Forever Costa Rica Association used funds from the II Swap to contract a group of international professionals with extensive experience in organizational strengthening and organizational management in Latin America to develop an institutional strengthening program for eligible entities.
In the first instance, a Training Manual for Trainers was developed on three key topics: fundraising; budget administration and execution; and formulation and evaluation of projects. Next, Forever Costa Rica staff was trained in those topics. Finally, in June 2015, a training workshop was held for 15 eligible entities selected by the Oversight Committee of the II Swap and SINAC personnel
Lastly, through development of projects included in the fourth call of the II Debt Swap, the intention is to control or reduce threats to the focal elements of management in the prioritized protected areas. Tables 1 and 2 present the projects being implemented and those to be awarded.