The Institute’s EC2 program has been busy working to protect coastal mangrove forests and other blue carbon habitats along the Baja California Peninsula; trying to advance climate action bilateral efforts between Mexico and the U.S., and digging deep into air and marine pollution from cruise ships and its relationship to a regulation by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

On the blue carbon front, we recently released a report with our main findings. Through our project, we examine potential cross-border financial mechanisms to help fund the restoration and conservation of coastal wetlands along the Baja California peninsula, not only because of their climate mitigation potential, but because of the ecosystem services they provide to communities and to migratory species that are of benefit and interest to the entire Californias region. Given the latent risk of habitat loss across the Las Californias, and a lack of resources in Mexico dedicated to conservation, there is a growing need to examine cross-border approaches and alternative funding mechanisms to promote binationally coordinated climate action through the protection of these ecosystems, which are important carbon sinks. 

To that end, the IOA and our project partners will hold throughout the coming months 1-on-1 briefings with state and federal stakeholders from both the U.S. and Mexico, to advance such mechanisms—as they are not without their hurdles. You can visit the project’s website here, where you’ll find different resources, including five supporting papers and an interactive and very illustrative storymap

On a related front, the U.S.-Mexico Climate Change Working Group—sponsored by the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, UCSD (USMEX); the Initiative on Sustainable Development Goals at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM); The Brookings Institution; and the Institute of the Americas (IOA)—will be presenting soon its final report, proposing a coordinated bilateral climate action program for both governments to tackle the climate crisis together. It contains concise recommendations on how to advance bilateral action on the following topics: Reduction of short-lived climate pollutants; energy efficiency; adaptation to climate change; international climate finance; and renewable energy. The leading institutions will be meeting with key government actors of both sides of the border on the month of April, to brief them on our findings. Additional white papers on each of the topics developed by our joint working group can be viewed here.

Regarding pollution of marine ecosystems by cruise ships, the EC2 program will be soon publishing two different papers. The first, titled A Hemispheric Regulatory Analysis of Scrubber Discharge Marine Pollution in Countries of the Americas, focuses on what certain nations in the Western Hemisphere are doing to mitigate marine pollution from ships’ Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems—or scrubbers—a technology ever more commonly adopted by cruise liners that can severely impact marine biodiversity and add to oceans’ acidification and climate change. The second analysis will quantify the air emissions (of polluting and greenhouse gases) and amount of scrubber discharges from ten different cruise ships that parked in the Bay of La Paz, Baja California Sur, during March 2020 and July 2021 because of COVID-19 restrictions. 

Last but not least, look out for our upcoming series of briefings being organized by our new EC2 non-resident fellow, Soffia Alarcón-Díaz, Associate Director, Americas Sustainability Consultancy at Schneider Electric. These short documents will be talking about very germane and hot topics in the sustainability and climate worlds, such as Scope 3 emissions, climate risks, and technology and ESGs. We will be releasing them every month starting in April, on our website and social media channels. ¡Stay tuned!

Gulf of California Marine Program (GCMP)

During the first eight months since the GCMP joined the IOA, we have continued ongoing research related to marine and coastal sustainability and conservation. Recognizing that coastal communities depend on a healthy ocean for their livelihoods, the GCMP has been making strides in compiling and analyzing tourism, fishing, ecosystem health and socioeconomic data to better understand our dependence on natural resources and the environment. As 2021 came to a close, we successfully completed the 23rd year of rocky reef monitoring in the Gulf of California. Ecological data collected by researchers provides insight into the health of these crucial ecosystems that help sustain two vital industries for the Mexican economy: fishing and tourism. 

Mexico’s Northwest is one of the most productive regions in the country in terms of fisheries and many coastal communities depend on this economic activity for their livelihood. The GCMP is too working continuously with artisanal fishers from Magdalena Bay, San Basilio Bay and La Paz Bay-Cabo Pulmo, all in Baja California Sur, monitoring their fishing activities and making assessments about target species. 

Lastly, the GCMP is happy to announce that it has incorporated new tools that help us quantify the value of ecosystem services, including a model developed by Stanford University, InVEST, that is helping us map future scenarios for Blue Carbon in Magdalena Bay, Baja California Sur. These analyses are part of the IOA’s Las Californias project and will help inform stakeholders responsible for conservation policies.