Sustainable financing of Marine Protected areas in the Mediterranean


This guide aims to provide MPA managers and national authorities with tools and a step-by-step approach for the development and implementation of financial strategies.

Sea Basin(s): 
June 2013
Application in MSP: 
Applied in a related process
Nature protection
Type of Issue: 
Environment aspects
Type of practice: 
Stage of MSP cycle: 
Develop and implement plan
Cross-border / trans-national aspect: 
Coherence with other processes: 
Marine Strategy Framework Directive

Questions this practice may help answer

  • Are there financing gaps for effective management of MPAs in the Mediterranean Sea?
  • How could we get a sustainable financing for MPAs?
  • If financing gap for effective management of MPAs exists, how is it?  

Implementation Context

The MEDPAN- NETWORK OF MARINE PROTECTED AREA MANAGERS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN is an organization composed by around 100 institutions and NGOs that either have direct responsibility for managing Marine Protected Areas (MPA) or are involved in the development of MPAs in the Mediterranean. The network's mission is to promote, through a partnership approach, the sustainability and operation of a network of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean which are ecologically representative, connected and effectively managed to help reduce the current rate of marine biodiversity loss.

One of the network’s strategic components relates to the production of knowledge and materials devoted to reinforce the capacity of institutions to effectively manage their MPAs. In this sense, the MedPAN collection is a series of tools and user-friendly guidebooks that can provide guidance and build capacity on key issues that managers of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Mediterranean have to confront daily. It is fully adapted to the Mediterranean context and is peer reviewed by MPA managers and experts of the region. It gathers tools and guidebooks developed by key players in the Mediterranean under a unified look and feel.

One of those publications is the Visitor Sustainable financing of Marine Protected areas in the Mediterranean, which is created to estimate the financing gaps for effective management of MPAs in the Mediterranean Sea.

This initiative stems from the need to help MPA managers with regard to achieving effective management and mobilising sufficient resources to cover necessary costs. The report provides updates on the available information regarding international and national financial resources per country along with current expenditures and the resources needed for effective management of local MPAs in the Mediterranean region.

Aspects / Objectives

In view to providing further assistance to MPA managers with regard to achieving effective management and mobilising sufficient resources to cover necessary costs, MedPAN and RAC/SPA in collaboration with WWF Mediterranean commissioned a study on the financing needs and financing mechanisms for Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Vertigo Lab, a consultancy specialised in environmental economics, undertook this study which aimed:

  • To estimate the financing gaps for effective management of MPAs in the Mediterranean Sea
  • To prepare a practical guide for managers on sustainable financing for MPAs
  • To organize training for local managers and national authorities on the sustainable financing of MPAs

The report includes the result of the analysis of financing gaps for effective management of MPAs in the Mediterranean based on a survey on the operating and investment costs of 15 MPAs and the creation costs of 5 MPAs in the 21 Mediterranean countries of the basin.


In order to estimate MPA financing gaps for the whole Mediterranean basin, a budget analysis was conducted at two levels:

At the local level, the cost structure was assessed for a sample of 20 Mediterranean MPAs. Based on these results, a standard cost structure enabled extrapolations for the average situations in MPAs in the region. The local budget analysis provides an evaluation of current financial situation of MPAs (“Basic scenario”) and an estimate of individual MPA financing needs for both “Optimal” and “Ideal” management scenarios (see Box opposite and below).

At the national level, 17 national MPA systems were scrutinised. The national budget analysis provides an estimate of current resources mobilisation, including financial resources from international cooperation devoted specifically to MPAs. Difference between current available financial resources at the national level and financing needs of MPAs leads to an estimate of the financing gap observed for the “Optimal” and “Ideal” scenarios.

In order to collect such data, a local survey was undertaken that consisted of an online questionnaire to which 20 MPAs responded out of 32 Mediterranean MPAs invited to fill in the questionnaire. This questionnaire was supplemented by phone interviews in order to complete data collection with the necessary qualitative information.

The questionnaire comprised three parts detailed below.

Main Outputs / Results

Regarding resource needs from local MPAs The study showed variability in the funding structure according to the level of development of MPAs. In the pioneer phase, MPAs are more dependent on national budgets than in the autonomous phase. For the latter, there is an increase in financial sources, in particular from the private sector. The level of financing needs is also correlated with the level of development of the MPA; recent and pioneer MPAs call for substantial investments in view to consolidating management structures and activities. In the autonomous phase, investments are directed to survey and monitoring, and car and boat purchase, which assumes financial stability for operating costs (staff salaries and other operating costs)

Regarding resource consumption The study demonstrated the importance of human resources in the operating costs of MPAs at the local level. This may be even greater as voluntary contribution has hardly ever been estimated by MPAs and scientific support was often associated with project costs and included in short term investments. Focusing on potential factors for resource consumption, MPA marine surface area has been identified as the main factor affecting human resource consumption and costs. It was thus possible to identify different levels of resource consumption based on MPA marine surface area in the Mediterranean. Large disparity between reported resource needs for effective management suggests that costs for effective management are highly dependent on manager ambition and thus with the local context and objectives of the MPA.

Regarding resource mobilisation at the national level The findings on resource mobilisation show an important role for Official Development Assistance (bilateral and multilateral ODA) in assisting countries in the establishment of a coherent and efficient framework for an MPA network. EU funds play a predominant role for EU Member States, allowing regions to invest in MPAs. Besides creation and management of MPAs, cross-cutting issues are predominantly targeted by international cooperation (ODA bilateral and multilateral). The scale of the necessary investments varies considerably from one MPA to another. The findings show high dependency on grants from international cooperation. There is a risk of financial uncertainties for some countries if they do not pursue their efforts in securing national public funding for MPAs. Along with public funding, countries have to engage in financial strategies to attract the private sector. This could be done through donations, payments for environmental services, or compensation schemes, among others. National efforts can be directed to setting a coherent “polluter pays principle” system to gather essential resources for MPAs.

Projections on resource mobilisation over 2014-2020 These projections must take into account trend for national expenditures on Marine Protected Areas, financial resources from international cooperation and potential financial resources as a result of country negotiations for new funding from the GEF-6 and LIFE programs. It is reasonable to expect an increased financial commitment from national governments that could devote more resources to Marine Protected Areas. Moreover, progress in strengthening national institutional capabilities to attract the private sector in the development of multiples financial strategies for MPAs could also broaden the impetus of financial resources at the local and national level. Finally, increased cooperation between public entities and stakeholders from international cooperation, could improve the negotiation process for supplementary funding.

Regarding financing gaps for the ideal management scenario The total financing gap for the ideal management scenario for the region amounts to €7.002bn until 2020. The financing gap for this scenario is estimated to €1.162bn for non-EU countries. The financing gap is estimated to about €5.839bn for EU countries. This estimate is mainly for the creation and effective management of 49,000 km² of MPAs in Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain in the EU, and Albania, Egypt, Monaco, Israel, Tunisia outside the EU.


As an initial attempt to quantify the financing gap for ideal management of the MPA network in the Mediterranean, the results presented in this report should be considered as a baseline for further analysis.

This study may also serve as background for the development of regional financing mechanisms such as trust funds for marine biodiversity conservation, or blue carbon programs. This evaluation should be backed on the local scale by sound financial strategy and planning from managers in order to guarantee that financing gaps may be bridged in the near future.

Contact Person

Mrs Catherine Piante, WWF, Handbook coordinator


Responsible Entity

The project has been developed by the GEOMER laboratory of the Brest University, and it has been coordinated and published by WWF-France and the Port-Cros National Park. It is framed within the MEDPAN north European project.

Costs / Funding Source

Funding Source: MED Programme