Climate-Smarting Marine Protected Areas and Coastal Management in the Mesoamerican Reef Region
The mesoamerican reef (mar) is the largest transboundary reef system in the world and contains the world’s second longest barrier reef, the system stretches across four countries: Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, along more than 1,000 km of coastlineans is a hotspot for biodiversity including endagered marine turtles, more than 60 types of corals ans more than 500 fish species.
Coastal and marine resources in the Mesoamerican Reef region provide essential ecosystem services, sustain key economic sectors (esp. fisheries and tourism), support the livelihoods of more than two million people and contribute to the protection of coastal communities against adverse effects of climate change. At the same time, the Caribbean coastlines of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras are among the most vulnerable regions worldwide to climate change impacts. The management of these resources, including through Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and overarching coastal development frameworks, does not yet adequately take into account adaptation principles and options. There is a need to strengthen capacities in coastal communities and government institutions to integrate climate change scenarios and adaptation options into a participatory decision-making process that can inform MPA as well as coastal zone management and development policies.
About the project
Recently released through the support of the International Climate Initiative, the Smart Coasts project aims to mainstream climate-smart principles into Marine Protected Area management and coastal development policies in countries bordering the Mesoamerican Reef with a view to improve the adaptive capacities of coastal communities in the region. Specific, e.g. ecosystem-based, adaptation options will be determined in a cross-sector and stakeholder-driven decision-making process applying science-based tools including ecological risk assessments and cost-benefit. Analyses that integrate climate change and social development scenarios, ecosystem services modelling and green vs. grey infrastructure. While informing relevant policy and management frameworks, adaptation measures will be implemented in selected coastal areas in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The project will enhance knowledge and capacities at local and national levels, contribute to national adaptation policies and action plans and make best practices available at relevant national and international fora.
The project builds on various strategies to multiply its direct impact. Key representatives of coastal communities, government institutions and non- governmental organizations will be systematically trained on methods and tools to identify and assess appropriate solutions for adapting to the effects of climate change. By integrating climate- smart principles into relevant local, sub-national and national policy and management frameworks, strategies to better adapt to climate change will be fostered in the region over space and time. In addition, best practices on integrating climate change considerations into policies for and management of coastal and marine resources will be compiled and shared at relevant national, regional and global fora. The project thereby aims to allow for institutionalization of climate-smart policy and management frameworks for coastal and marine resources and replication of activities beyond the geographical scope and duration of the project.
The Project is being implemented in the four countries that conform the Mesoamerican Reef System.
All of these sites were chosen due to the importance they have for biodiversity conservation and due to their population’s vulnerability towards climate change
Ninel Escobar, Coordinadora de Cambio Climático
Alejandra Calzada Vázquez Vela
Oficial Senior del Arrecife Mesoamericano