The United Nations Development Program in the Republic of Kazakhstan within the Biodiversity Financing Initiative (BIOFIN) presented an online course "New Approaches in Financial Management of Protected Areas (PAs)" this month.
The online course is aimed at training employees of environmental organizations in Kazakhstan on effective methods of planning and management of financial resources using new approaches and practical tools.
As practice shows, due to the lack of funding, protected areas have significant difficulties conserving the unique biodiversity of Kazakhstan. At the same time, in recent years the state budget has not financed training of staff of protected areas.
In order to help conservation organizations adapt to climate change and the challenges ahead, in 2019 under the BIOFIN initiative an educational course on budget planning in protected areas was developed. In the same year, 108 employees from 28 protected areas in Kazakhstan were trained, which was only 3% of the total number of employees.
But the coronavirus pandemic changed the nature of online learning, and in 2021 the training material was transformed into an online format in order to allow more professionals to be trained.
"Over the past 15 years, there have been significant changes in the management and planning of protected areas in Kazakhstan, which require additional and new knowledge and skills of staff, including financial planning and management," states Talgat Kerteshev, UNDP project manager for biodiversity.
Currently, protected areas have the opportunity to attract financial support from several sources: from the state budget, through the provision of tourist and recreational services, sales of products of limited economic activity, and the sales of branded souvenirs. It is also possible to attract grants and donations from outside foundations and companies to support such work. Each of these ways of attracting financial resources requires an understanding of different approaches, basic tools and methods of their use, as well as the presence of relevant competencies in Pas – important information the course offers to students.
The course immerses students in budget planning processes and techniques for developing an effective management plan, learning the basics of business planning. In particular, students are introduced to problem-based management approaches, learn how to analyze and build mutually beneficial relationships with customers and stakeholders, implement market-based tools in the organization, promotion and delivery of fee-based services and products within a limited business operation and build effective partnerships.
Much attention is paid to attracting additional funding, for example, through grants or donations. Today in Kazakhstan only a few protected areas use this tool, despite its promise in solving environmental problems and tasks.
Overall, the eight-hour course consists of online lessons on the following topics: what is budgeting in PAs and its relationship to the management plan; developing a management plan for PAs using problem and solution tree techniques, SWOT analysis, building logical frameworks and other problem-oriented methods; the business model as the basis for a new view of PA operations in a broader geographic and socioeconomic context; among others.
"Many protected areas identify the lack of funding as the main reason for the lack of effective performance of their key functions and this ultimately impacts biodiversity negatively. In this sense, this course is aimed at reducing the funding deficit of protected areas by improving the skills of staff working in protected areas," emphasized Talgat Kerteshev.
The course "New Approaches in Financial Management of Protected Areas" was prepared with the support of the Learning For Nature platform and is available for free at the following link: https://www.learningfornature.org/ru/courses/biofin-protected-areas-kazakhstan/