A broad coalition of philanthropic, government, and non-government organisations pledged technical and financial assistance totaling more than $150 million in private and public funds, to support Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama in strengthening the Eastern Tropical Marine Corridor by creating a transboundary biosphere reserve that would connect and protect biological hotspots and encompass 500,000 square kilometres (193,000 square miles) of ocean — an area slightly larger than Spain.
The Connect to Protect Eastern Tropical Pacific Coalition — which includes Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Nature Alliance, Enduring Earth, German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Islas Secas Foundation, KfW, Minderoo Foundation, Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, Re:wild, Shark Conservation Fund, and Wyss Foundation — will work alongside elected leaders, communities, Indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists to strengthen cooperative governance; design and implement marine protected areas and a biosphere reserve; and secure long-term sustainable financing.
Spanning from Costa Rica and Panama to the north and Colombia and Ecuador to the south, these rich Pacific waters harbor some the world’s most productive, biologically diverse, and ecologically significant marine environments. This vast, unique, irreplaceable, and interconnected ecosystem also plays a key role for populations of a wide range of sharks, whales, and sea turtles, and supports billions of dollars annually in local economic activity.
Yet, typical of the global ocean, these thriving waters — and the communities that depend on them — face growing threats. Recognising this risk, leaders from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama have moved forward together to act. Over the past year, each country pledged ambitious new marine protections. Together, these commitments cover some 324,000 square kilometres (125,000 square miles) of ocean, and include the thriving waters surrounding Cocos Island, Cordillera de Coiba, and the Galápagos. Additionally, each country has already committed to protecting at least 30 per cent of their sovereign waters.
In November 2021, the presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama also signed a joint memorandum of understanding to create the transboundary biosphere reserve that will connect and protect the marine environments of the Cocos, Coiba, Galápagos, Gorgona, and Malpelo Islands.
Safeguarding the pathways between the region’s linked biological hot spots will protect the tuna, sharks, rays, whales, birds, sea turtles and many other creatures that rely on these corridors to feed, gather, reproduce, and give birth. In addition to the benefits to nature, the reserve will also support food security, and boost local economies.
The reserve will help safeguard the Eastern Tropical Marine Corridor (CMAR), which was formally established by the four countries nearly 20 years ago as part of a joint declaration that created a voluntary regional inter-governmental cooperation mechanism for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity across the waters of member nations. The agreement has successfully encouraged communication and collaboration on common regional threats such as overfishing.
For example, in 2020, in response to the presence of a large, foreign-flagged industrial fleet operating near the Galápagos, the four countries issued a joint statement raising concerns about the threats to biodiversity and called on the international community to strengthen monitoring and control of fishing activities. The countries recently signed an agreement with the United States to work together to address common challenges, including illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, marine conservation financing, and the protection of marine biodiversity. The UK is also providing technical assistance in the region.
The Green Climate Fund will also provide financial support and the coalition invites other governments, multilateral agencies, civil society organisations and partners to join us in this effort.
Established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest in 2001, we are a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change. Minderoo Foundation is proudly Australian, with key initiatives spanning from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaboration in cancer and community projects.