Amigos de Calakmul has been working for 12 years protecting the tropical rainforest of the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in southeast Mexico. Their work centres on providing legal and environmental advisory services to the local communities that own these areas and who used to supply wood to logging companies until, with the help of the organization, they organized a new scheme for meeting their needs without finishing the no-renewable resources of their subsistence. Through the new scheme, the organization collected enough donations to start what is known as a Capital Fund, which sum is enough to secure that the interests it yields are given to the farmers in replacement of the fees they were receiving from logging companies in exchange of their protection of the forest, securing, at the same time, that the fund itself is not touched, reducing the need to search for additional funds annually. This capital fund is subject to control by a banking trust fund mechanism composed of 3 parts: the trustee (the bank), the donors/foundations, and the beneficiaries (the organization/the local people), which contributes to the effective management of the funds and guarantees its credibility and transparency.
However, the vulnerability of the financial market plus the logging companies’ recurrent proposals to the farmers to increase their income make it necessary that the fund keeps on growing. For that, Amigos de Calakmul complements this strategy by searching for what is known as parity/matching funds, on which each donation that the organization manages to secure is paired by a third source on the condition that the said commitment of the farmers to help preserving the forests is verifiably met. An additional funding source comes from the project’s participation in the carbon bond market, in which it redeems its carbon emission certificates for the price set by the international market rules.
Despite being an environmental organization, Amigos de Calakmul’s financial sustainability model provided important insights for the SNSP not only in regards of practical strategies for improving its self-sustainability but also in regards to the significance it renders for the organization to increase its capacity for self-sufficiency. Through their integrated schemes, they are fostering the sustainability of the resources that enable the communities’ subsistence, while reaching the organization’s objective of preventing the exploitation of the forests and addressing the socio-economic needs of the communities at the same time. They are also being helpful to avoid searching for annual funds, easing the management of the process, and securing its financial sustainability without relying too heavily on external sources of income. Mechanisms such as the banking trust, the participation in the carbon bond market, and the parity funds also bring attention to the way in which local ownership can be capitalized for addressing funders’ concerns on corruption and the lasting effect of their donations without compromising beneficiaries’ capacity to negotiate their views and responsibilities.