The ecological importance of the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) Ecoregion makes it a globally recognized priority conservation area. Many committed research, government, nonprofit and private organizations are part of the management equation, striving to ensure the long-term viability and productivity of the region. The MAR Leadership Program brings additional insights and strategies to the table, while recognizing that our fellows’ projects must seek alignment and collaboration with other national and regional efforts if they are to be successful. We also recognize that our fellows’ successful innovations in the fishery, tourism and development industries must be replicated and scaled-up quickly, given the urgency of the reef’s health.
The MAR Leadership Program makes a unique contribution to the future of the Mesoamerican Reef in the following ways:
- Substantial investments in local leaders to help them develop lifetime leadership skills and a passion for sustainability. The MAR Leadership training model combines group workshops for project design and development as well as individualized training opportunities tailored to each fellow’s needs.
- The program breaks away from “echo chambers” that tend to exist in certain sectors. We recruit fellows from the private sector, government agencies, local communities, academia and NGOs, encouraging inclusiveness and dialogue across all sectors.
- Establishing networks of fellows that work across themes (such as sustainable tourism & development and sustainable fisheries). We build networks of local leaders that come to appreciate the intertwined nature of threats and sustainable strategies.
- Building synergies within each generation of fellows by focusing on a major threat and having fellows build and grow their strategies while identifying interrelationships in the MAR Leadership network of fellows, experts and mentors.
- Our investment in local people is based on the belief that committed fellows with home-grown ideas will be able to engage their communities, rally their youth, and create the social support needed for effective change.