Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 303–329 | Cite as

Design principles for protected area certificates: a case study on strategic investor groups

  • Nathalie MeißnerEmail author
  • Etti Winter


Biological capacity of earth is limited. While it is obvious at first glance, it has been ignored for decades. Policy makers attempt to overcome the persistent depletion of the human livelihood base through the establishment of protected areas. However, the financial means to sustainably manage a representative network of protected areas on a global scale do not yet exist, and particularly, private sector investment is extremely modest. One option for increasing private investment flows is the development of a market place for protected area certificates (PACs) issued for geographical areas managed according to social and environmental best practices. This paper utilizes semi-structured expert interviews with 39 German companies to analyze major product and market requirements for the sound implementation of an international certification scheme for PACs. Based on a triangulation approach that combines quantitative and qualitative evaluations with the two-step clustering procedure for strategic investor groups, seven design principles are determined that might encourage voluntary investment funds from the private sector, and thus support the sustainable management of protected areas. Having a look at existing markets for protected areas, one scheme provides a good foundation for the defined design principles: the LifeWeb initiative—an online clearing house for protected area developers and potential investors.


Biodiversity Certification Cluster analysis Ecosystem services LifeWeb Private sector investment Protected area Sustainable finance 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Environmental Economics and World TradeLeibniz University HannoverHannoverGermany

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