Why does Coast Opportunity Funds exist?
Prior to 2007, when Coast Funds was established, more than a decade of discussions had taken place between First Nations, governments, the forestry industry and conservation groups looking for a way to end years of conflict over logging and to meet the interests of all of those groups in the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii.
The forestry industry was providing jobs and revenue for local communities, but was also encountering strong advocacy for conservation of the unique environment of the Great Bear Rainforest. Whatever mechanism was adopted to conserve the land also needed to sustain and improve the economic, environmental and human wellbeing of First Nations communities.
That goal led to the concept of conservation financing that would not only support conservation activities but sustainable economic activity. The creation of Coast Opportunity Funds was a critical part of the solution, together with the signing of numerous land use planning agreements between First Nations and the BC government.
Who provided the funding to establish Coast Funds?
The federal and BC governments contributed $60million to the economic development fund, and philanthropic foundations contributed $60million to the conservation fund.
All the investors are committed to the concept that it is the combination of both funds that is fundamental for the success of the Coast Funds vision of economic, environmental, cultural and social wellbeing for the First Nations of the Great Bear Rainforest.
What are the goals of Coast Funds?
Our governing documents [PDF] describe desired outcomes of the projects to be funded by Coast Funds. Our goals in working towards those outcomes are set out in our Strategic Plan [PDF]. Our sustainable economic development and conservation funds are dedicated to empowering the First Nations in the Central and North Coasts and Haida Gwaii in achieving healthy and vibrant economies and communities in tandem with the conservation of their homelands for the benefit of future generations.
Who is eligible for Coast Funds money?
The First Nations of the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii who have signed land use planning agreements with the BC government are entitled to allocations from the funds for eligible projects.
Who decides how the money will be spent?
Coast Funds works closely with the First Nations to support them in identifying and developing sound, high quality projects that meet the criteria in our governing documents. The Board of Coast Funds makes the final decisions to approve awards to the First Nations from their allocations, based on the projects meeting those criteria.
What kind of projects does Coast Funds support?
As at the first quarter of 2012, more than 80 percent of the awards to-date (totalling $25 million) have been invested in economic development projects, such as tourism businesses, shellfish aquaculture, and forestry. Conservation funding to date has been spent on projects such as creation of resource stewardship institutions.
Why does Coast Fund support sustainable economic development (as opposed to any kind of development)?
Our governing documents, which are the establishment agreements made with our funders (the federal and provincial governments and the private foundations) do not permit us to consider projects that are not sustainable.
A sustainable project is defined in the establishment agreements as one that can be sustained over many years, without any significant adverse impacts on the environment and without diminishing the ability of other people, other species, or future generations to survive and prosper.