The Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program is a fresh new initiative that supports young local environmentalists working ‘hands on’ to protect the Mesoamerican Reef system (MAR). The MAR is the world’s second largest barrier reef system, extending from Quintana Roo, Mexico to Honduras.
Every year, the program identifies and trains local ‘Fellows’ with the belief that committed individuals with home-grown ideas can engage their communities, rally their youth, and create the social support needed for effective change. In 2010, Fellows focussed on transforming the region’s tourism and coastal development models. The 2011 Fellows will focus on bringing creative solutions to the challenges of overfishing and protection of coral reef and fish populations in marine protected areas (MPAs).
The program is tailored to each individual’s areas of expertise, offering them the chance to interact and learn from peers, mentors and experts. Contiki’s funds support their specific projects, helping them with professional development towards creating business plans and project proposals, mentoring, coaching, workshops, individual training and learning through site visits as well as contributing funds directly into their specific programs.
The aim is that the growing alumni of Fellows, will over time, build a critical mass of committed conservation leaders in all sectors of civil society, transcending the traditional NGO (non-government organisations) ‘bubble’. Allowing them to take control of their own issues and solutions.
Support MAR Leaders now and follow them on Facebook to learn more.
“Containing 25% of all marine life, coral reefs are the ‘rainforests’ of the sea. They provide nourishment for an estimated 500 million people, protect fragile shoreline ecosystems and attract tourists that sustain coastal economies with tens of billions of dollars in annual revenue. But these reefs are facing serious threats including sediment runoff, destructive fishing practices and poorly planned coastal development. This includes the spectacular Mesoamerican Reef – the Western Hemisphere’s longest barrier reef.
To save this precious natural heritage will take a new kind of leadership and that is exactly what the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) Leadership Program is all about. They are committed to protecting this amazing Reef System by helping create a new generation of coral reef conservationists. They foster dynamic young people who will become the leaders and decision makers of the future. Working at grassroots level, MAR Leaders supports innovative conservation projects including scientific research, sustainable fishing practices and community-based tourism.
What better organization than Contiki Holidays to partner with and support MAR in this critically important work. Renowned for its youth travel programs, traveling with Contiki have always been a fun and culturally-focused travel company. But that is not all. They are also an engaged and committed operator who are actively giving back and contributing to building a better planet for future generations.”
- Costas Christ
Editor At Large
National Geographic Traveler
Chairman of the World Travel and Tourism Council – Tourism for Tomorrow Awards