In Australia and around the world governments are looking to business, industry and private sectors to help generate funds for the management of World Heritage properties as well as other heritage items, threatened species and protected areas.
States Parties have a responsibility under the World Heritage Convention to support their World Heritage properties to the best of their capacity. Some States Parties have insufficient resources to adequately protect their World Heritage properties and are eligible for international assistance.
Internationally, there are many partnerships and initiatives being explored to leverage resources and use financial incentives for conservation, including the conservation of World Heritage.
One example is the Biodiversity Finance Initiative – BIOFIN, launched in 2012 by the United Nations Development Program or UNDP as a global partnership seeking to address the challenge of financing biodiversity. It aims to build a sound business case for leveraging increased investment in the management of ecosystems and biodiversity.
The International Council on Monuments and Sites or ICOMOS announced in December 2016 that it is pursuing the creation of an international fund for the protection of endangered cultural heritage in armed conflict, which would help finance preventive and emergency operations, fights against the illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts, as well as contribute to the restoration of damaged cultural property.
Around the world, cultural institutions and zoos around the world are harnessing philanthropy and partnerships to fund conservation projects for the benefit of threatened species and cultural heritage of World Heritage properties. In the case of zoos, this is not limited to traditional captive breeding programmes, but includes on-ground conservation activities in the habitat of the species including within World Heritage properties.
Australia’s World Heritage properties are managed collaboratively under a variety of legislative regimes with resourcing for on-ground management being the responsibility of Commonwealth, state, territory or local governments, and, in some cases, private landowners, often in combination as partnerships. Some properties such as the Sydney Opera House are managed by Trusts, and the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens World Heritage property is managed through a joint mechanism of Museum Victoria and the City of Melbourne.
The Australian Government prioritises in its environmental grant programmes, projects that contribute to the conservation and presentation of the natural and/or cultural values of World Heritage properties and National Heritage places. The priorities and guidelines for various grant programmes can and do change. This allows funding to be directed towards addressing emerging issues and management needs of World Heritage properties and other matters of national environmental significance under the EPBC Act.
The Australian Government’s $142.5 million National Environmental Science Programme funds world-class biodiversity and climate science and is being delivered through six research hubs and is undertaking a range of research that is directly or indirectly relevant to the management of natural World Heritage properties.
- the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub supports environmental quality in urban areas with funding of $8.88 million through the University of Melbourne, led by Professor Peter Rayner.
- the Earth Systems and Climate Change Hub is furthering our understanding of the drivers of Australia’s climate with funding of $23.9 million through the CSIRO, led by Dr Helen Cleugh.
- the Marine Biodiversity Hub is researching Australian oceans and marine environments, including temperate coastal water quality and marine species, with funding of $23.88 million through the University of Tasmania, led by Professor Nic Bax.
- the Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub is supporting the sustainable development of our northern landscapes with funding of $23.88 million through Charles Darwin University, led by Professor Michael Douglas.
- the Threatened Species Recovery Hub is supporting the management of threats and improving recovery of threatened species with funding of $29.98 million through the University of Queensland, led by Professor Hugh Possingham.
- the Tropical Water Quality Hub is researching coastal water quality and coastal management focused on the Great Barrier Reef and other tropical waters with funding of $31.98 million through the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, led by Professor Damien Burrows.
Australian Government Indigenous funding is managed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. The requirements and opportunities for this funding are outlined on that department’s website:
The Australian Heritage Strategy includes exploration of innovative funding mechanisms to support heritage places in Australia into the future.
The states and territories may also have funding programs and policies for ensuring more sustainable resourcing for heritage places, including self-funding models.
There are other sources of additional resourcing that are worth exploring alone or in combination to boost the resourcing levels and profile heritage places. These include:
- Visitor entry fees
- Visitor or industry levies
- Leases and licences
- Cost recovery through mechanisms such as permits
- Net benefit through offsets
- Venue hire for functions, events, film and television
- Investment mechanisms such as Trusts and green bonds
- Environmental accounting
- Reuse of structures or construction of new facilities for revenue generation such as functions, shops, boutique or backpacker accommodation, cafes and restaurants
- Increased capacity building and involvement of volunteer networks and local communities in conservation, rehabilitation and presentation
Increased engagement and use of social networks and technology such as citizen science and crowd funding
The Australian Government has committed $210 million to the Reef Trust to provide innovative, targeted investment focused on improving water quality, restoring coastal ecosystem health and enhancing species protection in the Great Barrier Reef region.
The Reef Trust is one of the key mechanisms assisting in the delivery of the Reef 2050 Plan, focusing on known critical areas for investment—improving water quality and coastal habitat along the Great Barrier Reef, controlling the current outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish and protecting threatened and migratory species, particularly dugong and turtles. The Reef Trust has a strong focus on evaluation and adaptive management, to ensure it effectively contributes to the long-term sustainable management of the Great Barrier Reef.
The Reef Trust is designed to allow for the consolidation of investment from a wide range of sources to deliver the greatest outcome for the Reef from every dollar spent. It seeks to complement existing Reef investment by providing prospective investors with new opportunities to support the delivery of conservation and protection projects that align with the desired outcomes of the Reef Trust.
In 2004 a guide to incentives and policy tools for historic heritage conservation was prepared by a joint taskforce of Australian Government and state and territory heritage officials at the request of the then Environment Protection and Heritage Council.
Department of Environment and Heritage (2005) Financing Long Term Conservation Action report.
There is a variety of information online about innovative funding mechanisms and research in this area being conducted through Australian universities, including:
- The Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy at the University of Western Australia
- Environmental Economics Research Hub archive (formerly at the Australian National University)
Some examples of philanthropic-based conservation programmes include: