Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico to Manage Mesoamerican Reef with GEF Support

The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Council Meeting approved a US$10 million grant for the ‘Integrated Transboundary Ridges-to-Reef Management of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR2R)' project. The project aims to ensure the reef's ecological integrity by scaling up a ridge to reef management approach and enhancing regional collaboration for its management.

The Mesoamerican Reef, which is found along the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico, is the largest transboundary reef in the world and is a highly biodiverse coastal-marine ecosystem, according to the GEF. The region also contains 400 hydrological systems and watersheds.

The project includes four main components. First, it will strengthen regional governance by harmonizing national legislation and developing regional strategies to address invasive lion fish, among other activities. Second, it will address integrated water resources management (IWRM), including integrated management of hydrological systems and the establishment of public-private mechanisms for integrated watershed management. Third, the project will strengthen national capacities for marine spatial planning and integrated coastal management. Finally, the project is expected to conduct monitoring and learning exercises to share lessons learned with the global GEF International Waters community.

Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico held a side event at the May 2014 GEF Council Meeting and Assembly in Cancun, Mexico, to reiterate their collective commitment to addressing the major challenges threatening the Mesoamerican reef's ecological integrity and sustainable development in the area.

The Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) will lead the development and implementation of the project, with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as the GEF agency. The GEF approved the project concept as part of its May 2014 Work Program.

Source: Biodiversity Policy & Practice

Picture Credit: Laughing Bird Caye National Park WWF/Anthony B. Rath