Mangroves and sustainable development: views from Latin America

An International Workshop on Mangroves and Sustainable Development, held in July in Santa Marta, Colombia, gathered forty-five participants representing national and local governments, national parks and NGOs, Afro-American and indigenous community leaders, members of academia, private sector delegates and independent consultants from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Chile.

The workshop was organized by UNESCO-Quito, the Permanent Commission for the South Pacific (CPPS), Conservation International (CI), and the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia.

During the event, participants discussed environmental legislation and policies related to mangroves, as well as best practices and experiences of conservation and management of mangrove ecosystems. Topics included the sustainable use of resources; social, cultural and educational aspects; reforestation and ecological restoration; and research and monitoring. A field visit to the nearby Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve was organized to visit the mangroves and interact with communities living inside the reserve.

UNESCO-Quito has established a formal cooperation agreement with the intergovernmental Permanent Commission for the South Pacific and the NGO Conservation International to jointly address the issue of the sustainable development of mangroves.

Following the International Workshop, and the recent celebration of the International Day in Defense of the Mangrove Ecosystem (26 July), the UNESCO-CI-CPPS initiative also published a report on successful experiences on mangroves and sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean, and developed a Regional Action Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Mangrove Ecosystems.