Urgent income for local men and women but as well as a long-term transformation by designing a sustainable future that considered the current effects of climate change and the potential future threats.
Home to a diversity of life, the Galapagos Islands – its human and wildlife residents – were threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic. But thanks to the efforts of a crowdfunding campaign launched by UNDP Ecuador, UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative along with the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) and the Government Council for the Galapagos Special Regime (CGREG), the protections of the islands and its people continue.
The Galapagos Islands are a highly tourism-dependent economy, receiving 250,000 visitors per year and employing around 80% of its population. Once the world shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Galapagos revenue dropped to around US$50 million, less than half of what it would be in a typical year, leaving the population in dire need of support.
The crowdfunding campaign “Save Galapagos, Empower its People” was launched in November 2020 on https://savegalapagosislands.com/ site and completed in August 2021. The campaign sought to not only provide urgent income for local men and women but as well as a long-term transformation by designing a sustainable future that considered the current effects of climate change and the potential future threats. Over the course of 10 months, the campaign fell short of its initial goal of US$100,000 in donations, yet still raised over US$ 83,000, through Classy, with which 208 people benefited from the funds, 180 families were supported, and 11 organizations were empowered.
The campaign was divided into three phases, with the first addressing the urgent livelihoods of the population. In this phase, a “cash for work” mechanism was implemented and around 90 people were selected as “conservation champions” to provide ecological protection for the archipelago. Onwards into the second phase, local entrepreneurs participated in a two-month training program to obtain the tools and guidance to ensure a green business and its long-term success. During this time, the participants received a part-time salary and obtained training in various fields, such as digital marketing channels, financial advice, new payment methods, sound environmental practices in their business, and other relevant topics. Lastly within the third phase, the most innovative and inclusive projects received an additional one-month mentoring phase with experts that guaranteed the venture’s development and sustainability. Selected high impact projects building a resilient and sustainable economy for the Galapagos Islands, then received seed funding and technical assistance to accompany the program’s execution.
Through this crowdfunding campaign, both sustainable tourism and entrepreneurship can take place to ensure the protection of the world’s most important living laboratory of biodiversity.