The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) provides a diverse array of goods and services to the people of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. It is our shared heritage. Unfortunately, the health of the reef is declining, as documented by the 2008 and 2010 Report Cards published by the Healthy Reefs Initiative. The decline stems, at least in part, from inadequate management of threats to coral reefs. This Eco-Audit evaluates our efforts to protect and sustainably manage the region’s coral reefs; celebrates management success stories; and documents the extent to which recommended management actions have been implemented in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. It seeks to catalyze faster, more effective management responses and to increase accountability within the public and private sectors and among nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
AN INNOVATIVE, RIGOROUS PROCESS
The Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI), in collaboration with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and local partners, developed and implemented this first-ever multinational Eco-Audit of the Mesoamerican Reef Countries.
Evaluation criteria are comprehensive and inclusive.
Twenty-two standardized management indicators were developed across seven themes, such as fisheries management and coastal zone management.1The Eco-Audit draws on input from a variety of NGOs, governmental agencies, and the private sector, and includes transparently verified and publicly available results. In September and October 2011, HRI and WRI convened four national workshops, whose purpose was for participants to collectively rank each indicator and to compile documents to verify the rankings.
Analysis is objective, science-based, and validated.
HRI and its regional partners are committed to maintaining audit standards that are unbiased, fact-based, transparent, and replicable. The financial and management auditing firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers Costa Rica (PwC)2 reviewed the methodology and provided feedback on the processes, indicators, and quality of the verification documentation.
Data quality will be enhanced over time.
This first Eco-Audit establishes a baseline regarding the status of reef ecosystem management efforts. The results are intended to guide data collection and compilation for future Eco-Audits, which will occur every two years. These biennial Eco-Audits and the biennial HRI Reef Report Cards will occur in alternating years, thereby providing a routine accounting of reef health and efforts to improve it. As data collection becomes more complete and the database grows, we anticipate that the Eco-Audit will evolve, becoming more quantitative and comprehensive in its evaluation of management efforts.
A CALL TO ACTION
The results of the Eco-Audit are intended to instill a sense of urgency, accountability, and shared purpose among all institutions – NGOs, governments, and the private sector – with a stake and responsibility for maintaining the MAR as a healthy, biologically vibrant, and economically viable resource for generations to come. The audit seeks to hold high-level decision-makers accountable, while identifying actions needed to protect the MAR.
ECO AUDIT FILES