One the GSLEP program secretariat’s most crucial tasks is to support snow leopard range countries and partner in mobilizing resources for conservation. This entails:
- Developing project proposals in collaboration with the various partners for resource mobilization for GSLEP Program implementation and for sustaining the functions of the Secretariat.
- Developing mechanisms for funding with donors and range states and to connect with internal financial institutions in this regard.
- Exploring innovative financial architecture such as REDD+ and Climate
- Working with partner organizations to raise resources for and implementation of the Global Support Components of the GSLEP Program.
- Soliciting funds from range countries and partner organizations for supporting the staffing and functions of the Secretariat.
During the second Steering Committee Meeting of the GSLEP program in Kathmandu, Nepal in January 2017, it was agreed that policy recommendations be made on the multiple themes relevant to snow leopard conservation. Working groups were created for each theme to prepare background papers for policy recommendations under each theme. These recommendations were endorsed by range countries at the 2017 Global Snow Leopard Forum in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic.
On resource mobilization, it is recommended that:
- Range countries commit to at least double the allocation of National resources to snow leopard conservation through government budget appropriations and other means (e.g. Nepal allocated $3.15 million USD to implement climate smart management plans for up to 300 snow leopards in Nepal).
- Support be secured to access global environmental finance (GEF 7, GCF etc.) for snow leopard and ecosystem conservation projects across range countries building on past initiatives and lessons (e.g. under GEF 6 at least US$ 40 million of GEF funding was mobilized).
- Range countries should explore the establishment of a Regional Snow Leopard Ecosystem Trust Fund to mobilize resources from multiple sources including donors, private companies, national governments, revolving sources of funding such as mining or water revenues, other payments for ecosystem services, and more. Such multi-country Conservation Trust Funds (CTF) have been implemented previously in the Caribbean, Central Africa, and the Pacific and can bring together shared interests to create the scale and experience needed to create significant interest and impact.
- Range countries should also explore the establishment of a sustainable development investment fund or funds to complement the CTFs. Sustainable business investment in areas such as ecotourism, sustainable animal husbandry, agriculture, forestry, micro-hydro, solar power, etc. can support the ecosystem management plans by providing ecologically and economically viable livelihoods for people living and working in the target ecosystems. One concept for such a fund is that it would act as a revolving fund, making concessional loans to sustainable companies and using the reimbursements to finance future loans. The fund can be established as an impact investment venture providing investors with both a financial and environmental return on investment.
Funding needs and secured funding
The funding needed to support the conservation of snow leopards and their habitat across their range over the seven-year GSLEP program was estimated by the 12 snow leopard range countries to total about US$190 million for the period of 2014 to 2020. However, this estimate still needs to be fine-tuned as the program evolves and as further inputs are received from agencies and sectors, such as customs, education, and infrastructure, whose costs may not yet be reflected originally. Estimates may also have to be normalized among countries to ensure that each is counting the same factors; direct versus indirect costs, for example, may be included in some countries’ estimates but not others. The largest share of the total estimate is for managing habitat and prey, controlling poaching of snow leopards and their prey, and addressing knowledge gaps through research and monitoring.
Of the US$190 million, ca. 24% has been secured to date by snow leopard range countries through GEF-financed and UNDP-implemented projects in the snow leopard landscapes.