2015 MAR cohort onboard La Garza in Rio Dulce
Dear friends, partners and followers,
2016 has started out well for us and we have good news to share with you!
The first quarter has been full of activities for the Fellows and the MAR-L team:
* Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature* Mexican Center for the Environmental Law –CEMDA* Commission for Environmental Cooperation -CEC
- First meeting of the extended MAR-L Executive Committee;
- Third workshop of the 2015 cohort in Río Dulce, Guatemala;
- Diploma course of Leadership for Sustainability co-organized by FMCN* in collaboration with Sustentur and Universidad Anahuac Campus Cancun.
- CEMDA* - FMCN partnership will identify policy opportunities for applying blue carbon in Mexico.
- Melina Soto, new member of the MAR-L team.
- Fellows from previous cohorts’ latest developments!
- Upcoming events...
First meeting of MAR-L’s extended Executive Committee and a preview of 2016 cohort theme.
The new extended Executive Committee (EC) of the MAR Leadership program met in February in Cancun. Since the program inception, the EC has been integrated by Lorenzo Rosenzweig,Executive Director of the Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature, Carlos Saavedra, Executive Director Summit Foundation, and María José González, Executive Director of the Mesoamerican Reef Fund –MAR Fund. The MAR Leadership Program is at a decisive point in its development and its position in the region. Thereby to expand and incorporate new ideas and visions we have invited the EC a representative from each MAR country with demonstrated expertise in environmental issues and knowledge of the region to join the EC. New members are Janelle Chanona, Vice-President of Oceana as a representative for Belize, Stephen Box, Program Coordinator for Spatial Ecology of Marine Protected Areas from the Smithsonian, as representative for Honduras, Marco Cerezo, Executive Director of FUNDAECO as representative for Guatemala, and Luis Bourillon, Consultant representing Mexico. You can see the bios of the EC here.
Throughout the meeting, the team discussed the program strategies, cohort themes, training and programmatic approach and future development opportunities. The 2016 cohort will be comprised of motivated Fellows that will receive economic, advocacy, communication and leadership training by timely expertise mentors, to promote the successful development of strategic projects aimed at Raising awareness on the importance of the blue economy concept. The call for applications will be released in our social networks soon. Stay tuned and help us spread the word!
Third Workshop of the 2015 cohort in Rio Dulce, Guatemala
The 2015 cohort and the MAR-L team met at Hacienda Tijax Rio Dulce in Izabal District, Guatemala, an estuary of dramatic scenery: a canyon surrounded by mangrove forests that flows into the Amatique Bay, on the Mesoamerican Reef. The first half of the week was dedicated to a dynamic training on resource mobilization and fundraising by Annette Candanedo. 2010 Fellow Ada Pinelo and 2011 Fellow Pilar Velasquez joined the training. In the middle of the week Fellows went on field trip and met with a group of young students from the community learning center Ak'Tenamit, in the heart of Guatemala's Q'eqchi Maya land. Afterwards they shared an amazing meal in Livingston with fishermen cooperatives, government (CONAP, INAB, DIPESCA) and social organizations representatives (Fundaeco and Ecologic). Everybody exchanged their experiences and challenges about their work on mangrove conservation. Former Fellows Blanca Rosa García (2011) and Cleopatra Méndez (2012) joined us and were also engaged in the discussions. The second half of the training was dedicated to conflict analysis, negotiation and consensus building by Rich Wilson (Seatone Consulting). The group flew back home with a renewed energy and several tools to help their projects succeed.
CEMDA and FMCN will identify policy opportunities for applying blue carbon in Mexico
Despite all the benefits that coastal wetlands provide to Mexico, they are under increasing threat. Destruction is mainly triggered by poorly managed human activities driven by short-term economic gain beyond Mexico´s natural heritage recovery rate that underestimate the value of biodiversity and the ecosystem services on which our economy depends. Although the country is taking steps to improve protection of its coastal environment, the legal frameworks generally remain out-of-date, poorly enforced and/or underdeveloped.
In February, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) appointed the alliance CEMDA-FMCN to identify policy opportunities for applying blue carbon science and tools to better conserve and restore coastal and marine habitats, and to improve management and resiliency of coastal areas in Mexico. The goal of this consultancy is to enhance information-sharing, communication and lessons-learned with US and Canada and improve management and resiliency of coastal areas in all three countries. Successful implementation of the consultancy will help Mexico determine what policy strategies and tools it has that can be leveraged to conserve and restore blue carbon ecosystems, including federal, market-based, or international opportunities.
Diploma course of Leadership for Sustainability co-organized by FMCN, Sustentur and Universidad Anahuac Campus Cancun
FMCN and 2010 MAR-L Fellow Vicente Ferreyra's organization, Sustentur joined efforts to develop the first diploma course of Leadership for Sustainability at the Universidad Anáhuac (Cancun). The aim of the diploma is to strengthen the capacities of leaders from the public, private and social sectors to contribute to the sustainable development of tourism in Quintana Roo. The diploma course started on March 4th with 23 participants from various sectors and organizations related to sustainability areas.The topics that will be covered along the seven months of classes range from understanding the legal framework for tourism, to manage communication systems for sustainability, and of course notions on leadership applied tools. In the opening session Lorenzo Rosenzweig, Executive Director of FMCN, gave a keynote talk on the Path to the green / blue economy which was enlightening for the students.
Webinar: Mangrove Reforestation and Coastal Management
On Monday, March 14th, MAR-L team organized a webinar on Mangrove Reforestation and Coastal Management by Valentine Rosado, Belize country representative for Coral Reef Alliance. Valentine coordinates the development and implementation of grassroots conservation projects aimed at improving sustainability practices in the tourism sector. He shared with the 2015 Fellows his experience, presenting special reforestation techniques for different types of environments.
What have the Fellows been up to?
We are proud to report that Melissa Alvarez (2014 Fellow, Guatemala) who works as an advisor to the National Commission on Solid Waste Management (SWM) and in the Department of SWM within the Natural Resources Ministry (MARN) led the process for reviewing and updating the National Policy for Integrated Solid Waste Management which was published in the Official Journal of the Central Governmental Agreement January 13th 2016. During the12-month process, Melissa coordinated a team of multidisciplinary professionals in the MARN and the Inter-Agency Committee for Integrated Solid Waste Management. The policy was validated by more than 250 people representing public and private sectors. The adoption of the National Policy, will incentivize various actions to improve SWM including the use of the Guidelines for Municipal waste which is Melissa’s project in the MAR Leadership Program. She got funding from the GIZ and is planning to pilot it soon in Livingston. Find out more.
MAR Fund small grants program is financing a coral restoration pilot project in the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, the country's very first of its kind. This innovative proposal to support coastal marine resources' conservation and sustainable management, integrates scientific research and social development with the cooperation of fishing communities to study and experiment the feasibility of active coral reef restoration in the area. The leading team is composed by three MAR-L Fellows from Guatemala working in collaboration with Healthy Reefs Initiative and FUNDAECO; Ana Giro (2011), Angela Mojica (2012) and Guillermo Galvez (2015). The first steps of the project have been completed in the past month of February and the monitoring and follow up process is now starting! They already have 9 nurseries in each receptor reef. In total there are about 180 pieces growing. Due to the particular conditions of the reefs Guatemala they are working with different species of corals that have not been used in restoration programs in the MAR (Undaria and Porites sp.). Six fishers (including 2 women fishers participated actively process of harvesting and planting in nurseries.
Kim Ley-Cooper (2011 Fellow, Mexico) recently earned his PhD degree from the Department of Environment and Agriculture of the Curtin University in Australia. Kim´s MAR project is actually part of his fresh from the oven thesis, Sustainability of Lobster Panulirus argus Fisheries in Marine Protected Areas in South-eastern Mexico. The label Chakay is a synergy of 6 fishing cooperatives and has been recognized by the Marine Stewardship Council –MSC. Chakay has grown and is now considered an example for other certifications in the region. They pioneer on bringing the movement Slow Food and Slow Fish in Mexico. Because the warranty their product's quality represents, some of the best national and international chefs in the Riviera Maya are actively seeking Chakay lobsters to appear on their menu. As Chakay recognition is internationally growing, a German TV team shot a documentary about the project, which can be seen on line: http://www.dw.com/es/los-pescadores-de-langostas-en-méxico-contienen-la-respiración/a-19068584
As a first step in her project on sustainable management of solid waste in Roatan, Cindy Flores (2014 Fellow, Honduras)proposed the creation of a "green classroom" at Sandy Bay's Model Education Center. The main goal of the green classroom is to integrate environmental education and interpretation into the students' learning development. In addition to the classic curriculum, the students will learn about recycling, separation and reutilization of materials. Awareness about coastal marine resources, biodiversity and sense of responsibility will be raised. Cindy has recently obtained the financing support of MAR Fund in order to develop this project which will empower not only the students, but also the professors and the community of Sandy Bay. The expected results of the green classroom are learning improvements, the use of cognitive pedagogical tools to understand nature and generate knowledge, motivation and commitment to protect natural resources.
As presented in the last Healthy Reefs Initiative report, waste water contamination is one of the major threats to the Mesoamerican Reef. Coral Reef Alliance and Healthy Reef Initiative, where both 2010 Fellows from Honduras Jennifer Myton and Ian Drysdale respectively work, have joined forces with several entities from Roatan such as the Roatan Municipality, Bay Islands Conservation Association–BICA and the two local water councils, Polo’s Water and Half Moon Bay water, to improve the waste-water treatment plant of West End and improve the plant’s operation. MARFund, the German International Cooperation and KfW Development Bankwill provide financial support to develop a first phase of the project titled: "Technical Rehabilitation and Equipment of the West End Waste Water Treatment Plant".
Fellows Ian Drysdale (2010) and Ana Giro (2011)Healthy Reef Initiative country coordinators in Honduras and Guatemala, launched HRI 2016 report. The report evaluates the region's collective efforts towards protection and sustainable management of the Mesoamerican Reef in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. The take home message of the report is that now, more than ever, is time to increase our effort and continue working to reduce human induced impacts. The report was presented simultaneously in each country on March 10th, the Mesoamerican Reef Day. To consult the complete 2016 report or the reef monitoring data base: http://www.arrecifessaludables.org
The complexity of the underground aquifer, the population growth, the lack of appropriate waste water treatment and the saline intrusion are growing pressures upon the Yucatan Peninsula´s clean fresh water resources. The highly permeable limestone allows a rapid transport of contaminants to the aquifer, allowing pollution to reach the reef through the underground caves, negatively impacting its health and community structure.To raise awareness about this situation, in January 25th, the local NGO Amigos de Sian Ka'an, along with authorities from the three levels of government and members of the community, launched a communication campaign "You are water, be conscious". The campaign seeks to promote conservation of Quintana Roo's aquifer through information, awareness and active participation of the different sectors of the community. Monica Alba, 2014 MAR Leadership Fellow, participated in the elaboration of the campaign content and visual support, in coordination with specialists from social, private and public sector. The materials will be available digitally as well as printed in order to reach the urban and rural communities of the state.
The International Tropical Marine Ecosystem Management Symposium (ITMEMS, http://www.itmems.org/) is organized by the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in complement to the International Coral Reef Symposium, providing a forum for the world coral reefs and related ecosystems managers. The symposium has been designed to work on solving marine ecosystem management issues at a local level, providing useful tools and practices in each session. Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Environment of Japan and United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), 2011 MAR Fellow from Mexico, Gabriela Nava, had the opportunity to participate in the Symposium. During the ITMEMS 5, CEO of Oceanus A.C,Gabriela, was part of a group of 50 selected professionals from all over the world to review ICRI´s reef management tools of each country. The results will soon be published in the proceedings of the event.
As part of her work at the Division of Solid Waste Management Authority for Sustainable Watershed Management and Lake Amatitlan (AMSA), Joanna Giron (2014 Fellow, Guatemala)is involved in projects to rescue the lake and its major tributaries. The municipal waste water treatment plant will be rehabilitated in order to diminish sediment and nutrient contamination that will end up in the Lake Amatitlan. It is an interinstitutional project that will include several municipalities.
2016 MAR Leadership Program Call for Applications
The MAR Leadership team is currently actively working on the upcoming 2016 call for applications. The team has been interviewing professionals from the region and experts on blue economy, in order to pin point areas of opportunities, profiles and the theme's special needs in the area. The 2016 MAR Leadership cohort will be comprised of motivated Fellows that will receive economic, advocacy, communication and leadership training by timely expertise mentors, to promote the successful development of strategic projects aimed to raise awareness on the importance of the blue economy concept. The call for application is planned to be released at the beginning of April through our different social networks.
Fourth Workshop and Graduation of the 2015 MAR-L cohort
The fourth and final 2015 cohort workshop will be held from May, 28th to June, 5th in Tela, Honduras. The workshop will be focused on advocacy training and environmental policies with the participation of two amazing experts: Lori Maddox, Associate Director of the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide –ELAW- and Alejandra Serrano from CEMDA. This training will build up Fellows' capacities in these important topics and give them tools to promote better public policies. Special guests include Octavio Aburto, Director of the Gulf of California Marine Program. He is an Assistant Professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) and a professional photographer associate with the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Economic Tools for Conservation of Nature - Mexico and the Mesoamerican Reef 2016
In 2016, the third edition of the course Economic Tools for Conservation of Nature will focus on coastal marine ecosystems and fisheries. The course will be held in the Campus of Colorado State University, located in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, from 6 to 17 June. Applicants do not require training in economics or finance, but a deep understanding of the environmental problems they face in their country. Interested candidates must complete the online application form no later than Friday, April 1, 2016. Space is limited to 30 participants and the results of the selection will be announced on April 6. Economic Tools for Conservation of Nature has been designed by Conservation Strategy (CSF), who in coordination with the Institute of Ecology and Biological Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Community and Biodiversity (COBI) and Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature (FMCN), they organized the course in Mexico for the first time in 2014.
Thank you so much for your amazing support
Without your help any of all these great news would have been possible!
Stay tuned for more news on our website
Fellows visiting the AkTenamit center
Fellow Melissa Alvarez
Fellows Ana Giro and Angela Mojica restoring coral
Fellow Cindy Flores teaching in Sandy Bay
Fellow Ana Giro launching the 2015 HRI report
ICRI attendees and experts