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GFCR Approves the Development of ‘MAR+Invest’, a Regional Programme for the Mesoamerican Reef

New York, 2 July 2021 – The Global Fund for Coral Reefs (GFCR) Executive Board has approved the development of a blue economy regional programme in the four countries of the Mesoamerican Reef (Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Belize) led by the MAR Fund as Convening Agent. The anticipated 10-year regional Programme for the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) offers technical assistance, financing solutions, monitoring and evaluation of impact and builds communities for reef -positive innovation and financing.  

The MAR is the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest reef system in the world, stretching over 625 miles (1,000 km) along the coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. The MAR’s diverse habitat is home to more than 900 species of fish, coral, mollusks, and marine mammals, including iconic species such as the hawksbill sea turtle, saltwater crocodile, goliath grouper, and the largest aggregation of whale sharks in the world. Additionally, the reef provides ecosystem services to an estimated 3 million people living in proximity to MAR sites.  

Initiated in 2004, the MAR Fund’s mission is to drive regional funding and partnerships for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the MAR. The MAR+Invest Programme objectives build upon existing MAR Fund and partner initiatives to develop and finance market-oriented solutions that address direct and indirect causes of coral reef degradation across the four MAR countries. The Programme’s Theory of Change supports three priority outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: Protected areas of the MAR are financially sustainable with established local stewards of the natural capital;
  • Outcome 2: Livelihoods of coral reef dependent communities have a positive impact on coral reefs; and  
  • Outcome 3: MAR Emergency Fund effectively responds to major shocks. 

The potential pipeline of opportunities presented in the MAR+Invest proposal will be further evaluated to identify investable projects that demonstrate potential commercial capital leverage, including such opportunities as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) corporate partner, sustainable shrimp industry transition, climate smart agriculture and seaweed regenerative ocean farming. Other opportunities under consideration include sewage treatment, blue carbon and a marine tourism park. 

The full MAR+Invest proposal is expected to be presented to the GFCR Executive Board in Q4 2021 followed by Programme launch in 2022. 

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