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Project Background

Recognizing the importance of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) to the economy of the region and to the natural and cultural heritage of its people, and conscious of the increasing threats to its overall health, the leaders of the four countries bordering the MBRS convened in Tulum, Mexico in June 1997 to pledge their commitment to protecting this outstanding resource. The Tulum Declaration called on the four littoral states of the MBRS and its partners in the region to join in developing an Action Plan for its Conservation and Sustainable Use. The Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD), comprised of the Ministers of Environment of the seven Central American countries and Mexico (as an observer), requested support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the World Bank for the design and implementation of an Action Plan for management of the MBRS, which resulted in the formulation of the Project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The MBRS Project is the first phase of a 15-year conceptualized program, and was designed based on the regional components of the Action Plan and included an exhaustive process of broad stakeholder consultation and participation throughout the MBRS region.

Project Objectives

The global objective of the project is to enhance the protection of the ecologically unique and vulnerable marine ecosystems comprising the MBRS, by assisting the participating countries in strengthening and coordinating national policies, regulations and institutional arrangements for the conservation and sustainable use of this global public good. The regional objectives of the MBRS Program, agreed to by the four participating countries, are to: (a) strengthen Marine Protected Areas; (b) develop and implement a standardized data management system of ecosystem monitoring and facilitate the dissemination of its outputs throughout the region; (c) promote measures which will serve to reduce non-sustainable patterns of economic exploitation of MBRS, focusing initially on the fisheries and tourism sectors; (d) increase local and national capacity for environmental management through education, information sharing and training; and (e) facilitate the strengthening and coordinating of national policies, regulations, and institutional arrangements for marine ecosystem conservation and sustainable use.

Project Launch and Effectiveness

The Project for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System was launched on June 20, 2001 on Ambergris Caye in Belize in the presence of the Prime Minister of Belize and Ministers of the Environment from the Mesoamerican States. The GEF Trust Fund Grant Agreement was signed on October 18, 2001 by the contracting parties in Washington, DC. The MBRS Project was declared "Effective" by the World Bank on November 30, 2001.

The MBRS Project is funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Governments of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. The project is implemented by the World Bank and is executed by the four countries through the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD) of the System for Central American Integration (SICA). The MBRS project is being executed by the Project Coordinating Unit (PCU) on behalf of CCAD, with headquarters in Belize City, Belize.

 
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