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May 17, 2016

MAR Leadership Program Calls for Applications

The 2016 Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program officially made the call for applications today at a press conference at the Radisson. This year, the theme for the program is “Promoting Blue Economy Approach for Sustainable Development in the MAR countries.” The program is designed to promote conservation and protection efforts in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras through capacity building of individuals. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Mesoamerican Reef is the world’s second largest barrier reef with an approximate length of one thousand kilometers that spans from Quintana Roo, Mexico, across the entire length of Belize and ending in the Bay Islands of Honduras. It is the habitat for more than six-five coral species, five hundred fish species and is home to large animals such as turtles, whale sharks, manatees, and dolphins. It’s a complex ecosystem on which a whopping two million people depend directly as an important source of economic activities.

 

Maria Arreola

Maria Arreola, Director, MAR Leadership Program

“The Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature was founded in 1994 so we have twenty-two years working in conservation in Mexico.  And we have several programs. We have a program related to natural protected areas; we have a program related to forests and watersheds; we have a program related to ocean and coasts; we have spatial and innovative programs about conserving the sustainable rural life, about conserving the golden eagle and sustainable mining. Within the spatial programs, the Mesoamerican Leadership Program is based.”

 

The Mexican Fund for the Conservation of Nature launched the MAR-Leadership Program back in 2010. The primary goal is to accelerate conservation and protection efforts in the reef leaders from across Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, assisting the successful applicants through capacity building, the necessary tools and an international networking. Several Belizeans since its implementation have been chosen and have ongoing projects in Belize.

 

Angeline Valentine

Angeline Valentine, Member, Cohort 2011

“We did trainings in public speaking, in presentation development, in conflict resolution. I think one of the things that have not been mentioned which is very essential to note is that while fellows are interacting with each other, we are also interacting locally, regionally and internationally with a team of experts—renowned experts in the field of marine resources management.”

 

Ralna Lewis

Ralna Lewis, Member, Cohort 2015

“Negotiation, conflict resolution as well as looking at identifying stakeholders. I mean in this field of work, we deal a lot of individuals who we classify as stakeholders—key individuals who are necessary to propel the work that we are doing. And through this program we learned to develop those skills. How to identify them, how to interact with them, how to ensure that what we are doing is benefiting our stakeholders; look at how our projects will complement or improve the livelihoods of these individuals.”

 

Nick Cano, Member, Cohort 2011

“We are at the point now after a lot of work and a lot of contribution from fellow MAR leaders in Belize and within the region where this coming month, the government will be expanding manage access to all territorial waters of Belize. It hasn’t been easy; it has been a lot of work. The MAR Leadership Program is a program that has accompanied me through that journey.”

 

Nick Cano

Maria Arreola

“What we have in our mission or how we achieve our mission is by mobilizing our resources—not only financial resources, but mobilizing contacts, mobilizing alliances that will help us to achieve what we are working on.”

 

According to Director Maria Arreola, the program has supported over two hundred and seventy-five organizations, one thousand three hundred and sixty-seven projects have been financed, fifty-three species have been conserved, seventy million dollars have been allocated to conservation projects and thirty-five thousand direct beneficiaries. The program is now looking for twelve to fourteen conservationists from different sectors.

 

Marie Arreola

“Our mission is to protect the Mesoamerican reef system and also to bring a better livelihood for the communities that live there and we do so by empowering emerging leaders, who are in their early to mid careers and we help them to develop innovative projects, replicable projects, projects that could be scaled up in the region and that would present a solution to the emerging threats that the eco-region is facing right now. How do we work; we have three strategies.  The first strategy is about finding the talent in the region; is talking to our contracts, running these kinds of press conference, visiting the countries and meeting people and getting to find these individuals that are doing conservation works; that are working in their communities or are interested in starting careers or subjects related to marine conservation or those people that are working in the private sector or in N.G.O.s.  We recruit between twelve and fourteen fellows; twelve or fourteen fellows from four different countries. These fellows come from different sectors, they could be working in different sectors and they could also have different backgrounds. So far we have in the program fellows that are biologists, engineers, communications experts, tourism experts, lawyers and marine biologists. So there is a wide range of fellows that are interacting, exchanging information; that are collaborating.”

 

A total of sixty persons have been trained so far through the MAR Leadership Program; thirty-two projects have been implemented and fourteen transnational synergies have been created. Duane Moody for News Five.

 

The deadline to make submissions is June fifteenth and will be followed with interviews. By August fifteenth, the names of the successful applicants from the four countries will be announced.

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