On October 22 and November 22, 2018, two community workshops were held in the towns of Río Lagartos and El Cuyo of the Ría Lagartos Biosphere Reserve as part of the launch of the Costas Listas project, an initiative implemented within the framework of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
Coordinated by WWF México, the project seeks to strengthen the adaptation capacities of coastal communities that depend on the ecosystem services provided by the Mesoamerican Reef in priority sites of Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. A portfolio of adaptation options will be identified to reduce the vulnerability of communities and their livelihoods to climate change. This will be done through the generation of robust technical information and a participatory process that will help identify key actor priorities in the region.
The workshops were organized with the support of the staff of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP) and Pronatura Peninsula of Yucatán (PPY), two key partners in the implementation of the project. Workshop participants included representatives from the state government of Yucatán and the municipal governments that comprise the Biosphere Reserve, as well as representatives from the most important economic sectors in the region: fishing, tourism and the salt industry.
In addition to publicizing and promoting the adoption of the project, the workshop was designed with the objective of collecting information about the perceptions of the communities living within the Biosphere Reserve regarding climate change. To do this, a “climatic calendar” exercise was facilitated, through which—with input from the participants—the local climate, its implications on biological and ecological processes, and its relationship to the important economic activities of the community were characterized. Finally, the exercise captured some of the changes in the climate observed by the participants.
Some of the effects of climate change mentioned by the participants were the delay of the rainy season and a longer canícula (short dry season). In addition, participants observed some changes in local biodiversity that have had impacts on the local economy. For example, there has been a notable decrease in species of commercial importance like the octopus and lobster.
In the coming months, follow-up workshops will be organized to begin the process of identifying and prioritizing climate change adaptation measures.
Relatedly, a workshop was held from November 14 to 16, 2018 in Belize City in which technical coordinators from the project in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, as well as academic partners that coordinate the research that will support climate change adaptation processes, participated. In the workshop, preliminary information on climate change projections was presented for project sites, additional information needs were identified and a group of actors was trained in the use of ecosystem service models for decision making.
The project Smart Coasts is implemented under the International Climate Initiative (IKI), which is financed by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).
This article was written by WWF Mexico. The content of this article is the exclusive responsibility of the author.