The LACA Alumni debrief :

The LACA region has come together this week to consider critical issues related to climate change within the maritime sectors and ways in which they may be addressed in an integrated manner at all levels.

The meeting took place in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, where alumni spent a week of teaching and learning through a mixture of theoretical, practical and case study examples. The alumni also applied expertise and lessons learnt in an intense role playing, simulation exercise that was intended to mimic a real world situation dealing with issues surrounding climate change impact, trans-boundary resource management and sustainable development.  The alumni assumed roles of governments negotiating plans for developing their countries and collaborating in managing regional marine and coastal resources.

The LACA Regional meeting brought together Alumni and current fellows to share valuable information on climate change within the Region. The variety of backgrounds within the Alumni enriched discussions and showed once again the strength of the network and the growing friendship among the Alumni. In this sense, it was also an opportunity to remind the expertise of the fellows and how each of them can contribute from their disciplines to address common issues related to the oceans.

The Alumni had the opportunity to hear some experiences on management, as well as challenges and programmes being done for mitigation and adaptation in the face to climate change from different categories of MPAs in this region of the Yucatan Peninsula (Marine National Park Occidental Coast of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizu, National Park Arrecifes de Xcalak, Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka’an and Arrecifes de Sian Ka’an).

It is also important to note that the alumni got strong, factual and up to date information on the scientific basis of the process underlying the interaction between oceans and climate. It was shown to us how the oceans are a major player in the climate arena and yet to be properly addressed with the collection of new scientific data.

Moreover, the alumni had the opportunity to know the work of organizations and communities on the protection, research and management within the “Puerto Morelos” marine protected area. The alumni was very grateful to the organizations and fishermen who shared their experiences and lessons learned. It was an unique experience, because the alumni had also the opportunity to dive and snorkel and to see one of the most important coral barriers in the Mesoamerican Reef System. The Alumni also had the opportunity to try the lion fish ceviche in the restaurant of the fishermen cooperative as it is being used as a strategy to reduce this invasive species in the region.

The Alumni simulation training sessions gave hands on experience on State level negotiation processes. These activities served as a very useful capacity building component especially in this time when Oceans agenda are at the forefront. Considering the high level of the discussions and the experience in field, the meeting was very valuable in terms of learning and sharing of experiences.

The alumni meeting is once again a unique occasion for alumni from the region to talk and organize themselves in order to improve the efficiency of the network and the mean of communication. The discussions pointed out the need to streamline the communication means and to continue working together in order to keep improving the alumni.

In addition, this meeting was an a opportunity used by  LACA Fellows to interact, share experiences, define common interests and establish general commitments for the next months as individual experts and as a group.