This year, the theme for World Oceans Day is “Gender and the Ocean”. We would like to focus on women who play a key role in actions related to climate change adaptation in the four countries of the Mesoamerican Reef. Some, as part of a community striving for a better future, others as local organizations or government representatives -they all have a voice to raise. With their different approaches and motivations to learn, share or act it is clear that they give the “extra mile” to tackle the climate crisis.
The potential future effects of global climate change is a matter that should concern us all, and women have embraced this truth by demonstrating their commitment to do their part.
We dedicate this first issue of the Smart Coasts newsletter to all the women who are doing everything possible for their communities and countries to be prepared for the consequences of climate change.
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.
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 four Mesoamerican Reef countries -Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala- remain interested in the implementation of the Smart Coasts project and see it as integral to enabling climate adaptation and resilience building.
The first regional workshop to analyze climate risks with representatives from political partners, subcontractors and key target groups was carried out in Belize City, Belize. Representatives from the four target countries participated.
Participants from the four countries agreed that this kind of meetings are key to learn from potential implications that climate change will have over a highly vulnerable region as the Mesoamerican Reef is. They also highlighted the importance of sharing information among countries and the support that the project will provide in constructing climate change scenarios which will be helpful for adaptation purposes.
A series of “climate talks” were conducted across the Mesoamerican Reef system in order to raise awareness about the current and potential impacts that climate change will have on local communities.
In Mexico, six workshops were facilitated in local communities that are located within the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve, the Yum Balam flora and fauna protection area, and the state reserve Dzilam. Government authorities, fishing cooperatives, tour operators and private sector stakeholders have also participated in an effort to identify the implications of a changing climate – higher temperatures, shifting seasons and changes in storm occurrence – on their livelihoods – particularly tourism and fisheries.
The project also conducted these talks in Belize, in 5 towns. Over 40% of participating stakeholders were women. Four marine protected areas and co-managing NGO’s facilitated these talks and engaged stakeholders from 5 planning regions, 15 communities and five buffering marine protected areas. Erosion along the coast emerged as one of the main challenges facing most coastal communities.
In Guatemala, these activities were also carried out in the Multiple Purpose Protected Area Río Sarstún, Livingston and Izabal with different stakeholders, such as local communities, local and regional authorities. As in the rest of the Mesoamerican Reef countries, these discussions led to analyze how the climate has changed in the short and middle term in the area and how these changes should to be used to inform local climate change adaptation measures.
Stakeholders from areas near the Cuyamel-Omoa National Park and the interconnexion zone with Jannette Kawas National Park participated in the talks in Honduras. Topics such as climate risk management, adaptation and resilience, and ecosistem services valuation were addressed.
In the coming months, the results of these workshops, combined with science-based data and information regarding climate change scenarios and ecosystem service modelling will be used to inform a decision making process regarding climate change adaptation of these communities.
Learn more about the Smart Coasts project here
This project is part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI).
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) supports this initiative on the basis of a decision adopted by the German Bundestag.