Two decades of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and regional leadership in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

Working in partnership to secure sustainable financing and deliver a healthy ocean

Spanning from Colombia and Ecuador to the south, and Costa Rica and Panama to the north, CMAR is a vast, unique, irreplaceable, and interconnected region of the ocean that is home to an estimated 160 marine species and supports billions of dollars annually in local economic activity,

June 6, 2024: On the eve of the Immersed in Change ocean conference, the governments of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Panama gathered in San José, Costa Rica, to recognize the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor – referred to as CMAR.

Ministers from all four countries reflected on the progress made over the last two decades for a regional mechanism of cooperation for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, including action for a legally binding agreement for CMAR, progress to establish a transboundary durable financing mechanism, monitoring and enforcement, and a path forward for the next ten years.

As shared in a tweet by Minister Muhamad: “We are building links and a binding peace with nature. Taking care of this hotspot of biodiversity is a responsibility; for this we need technical and practical governance, and consolidation of a binding legal agreement for CMAR”

Susana Muhamad

Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Government of Colombia

The 2004 CMAR agreement has successfully encouraged collaboration, knowledge sharing, and regional leadership, and it is recognized as an example for countries that share ecosystems, to learn from. In the last three years, CMAR has cemented its leadership in transboundary conservation through several actions:

  • November 2021 – the four countries signed an agreement to create a 500,000 square kilometer transboundary biosphere reserve that would connect and protect the Cocos, Coiba, Galápagos, Gorgona, and Malpelo Islands.
  • June 2022 – The Connect to Protect coalition pledged technical and financial assistance totaling more than $150 million in private and public funds to strengthen marine protections for the creation of the transboundary biosphere reserve.
  • March 2023 – Within 9 months the Connect to Protect coalition reported commitments of $118.5 million in funding to help deliver the global 30 by 30 target, support marine conservation, and build resilience to climate change.

Recognizing that cooperative leadership and working in partnership is crucial to secure sustainable financing and deliver a healthy ocean, the Connect to Protect Eastern Tropical Pacific Coalition provides technical and financial assistance in support of a regional governance structure, design and implementation of MPAs and the biosphere reserve, and securing sustainable financing. The coalition works with elected leaders, communities, Indigenous groups, government officials, and scientists.

As a day of celebration of the region came to a close, the focus shifts to ambition and action, beyond 2030.

CMAR is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, where three of the four countries in this transboundary initiative have already achieved the goal to protect 30% of their marine area by 2030. 

“The Bezos Earth Fund committed to finance the first three years of the technical secretariat of CMAR and is happy to maintain that commitment in this important next step”

Patricia Leon

Bezos Earth Fund

About the Connect to Protect Coalition:

The Connect to Protect Eastern Tropical Pacific Coalition includes the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Nature Alliance, Development Bank of Latin America, Enduring Earth, German Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation through KfW, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation,  Green Climate Fund, Islas Secas Foundation, Minderoo Foundation, Pew Bertarelli Ocean Legacy, Re:wild, Shark Conservation Fund, UK Government, U.S. Department of State, World Bank, and Wyss Foundation. Together the coalition worka 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.