For two days, the Smart Coasts project and its partners held a virtual workshop aimed at journalists from the four countries that integrate the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. This workshop represented a free training opportunity presented by the project so that this audience could learn more about how climate change will continue to impact this ecoregion according to science-based data generated by the project and the measures to adapt to these impacts, as well as the importance of communicating it effectively. The workshop was attended by more than 80 journalists. At the end of this workshop, a journalism contest was announced in order to motivate the publication of the contents addressed in the media. Work produced by journalists is currently being evaluated.
In 2021, the municipal governments in the focus area of the Smart Coasts project in Mexico had a transition. In this context, the Smart Coasts project team is working with the Government of the state of Yucatán to develop the capacities of the incoming municipal governments in terms of ecosystem-based adaptation. In addition, WWF developed tools that can be useful to identify policies, programs, activities and other initiatives that can help incorporate ecosystem-based adaptation criteria in municipal management.
Staff from the Smart Coasts project participated in COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, where project findings were shared as part of nature-based solutions to address climate change. For Belize, in particular, the government made firm commitments to increase the protection and restoration of coastal ecosystems within the country's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These include, among others, the additional protection of 12,000 ha of mangroves by 2030, the restoration of 4,000 ha of mangroves by the same year, the creation of a national coral reef restoration plan, and the creation of a national seagrass management policy with identification of a portfolio of priority areas for protection.
Project staff from the Smart Coasts project worked with the Government of Belize to integrate within the country's updated NDC the action of assessing mangrove (above & below ground) carbon data and integrating within the national greenhouse gas inventory. To facilitate this, the carbon sink capacity of these ecosystems needed to be assessed. For this reason, in September 2021, WWF collaborated with international partners Pew, Smithsonian and Silvestrum, and national and local partners (Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, Forest and Fisheries Departments, National Climate Change Office, University of Belize's Environmental Research Institute, TIDE, SACD, CSFI, TASA, and SEA) to conduct the first national mangrove blue carbon assessment for Belize. The laboratory analysis of collected cores is ongoing and expected to be completed by mid-2022.
Considering that in October 2021 the beneficiary communities in Río Sarstún, Izabal in Guatemala selected the protection of mangroves as an adaptation measure to be implemented with the support of the Smart Coasts project, preparatory meetings have been held for the implementation of this measure on the ground. The implementation plan for the protection of mangroves in Río Sarstún is under preparation and is expected to be finalized in the coming months.
The Smart Coasts team in Honduras, together with other local partners, has conducted plans for the implementation of the climate change adaptation measures selected from the science data analyzed by the project. The implementation in the field will be carried out with the communities of the areas covered by the project, as well as with other relevant local and national actors.