Smart Coasts project begins in the Mesoamerican Reef System

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 -Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras- with a view to improve the adaptive capacities of coastal communities in the region.

The first workshop with partners from these countries was conducted in Belize to collect and synthesize information from four project field sites on priority climate change impacts and future risks to communities and ecosystem services; benefits of ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) in project communities; and analyze possible future thresholds of change for services and key species.

Initial situation
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.

Within the project, 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.

WWF Guatemala / Mesoamerica.