29th Assembly of Sponsors of the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation

  • Friends of Cocos Island Foundation developed a series of actions in 2022 with the aim of promoting the implementation of the largest marine protected areas in the country, managed by the Cocos Marine Conservation Area (ACMC).

San José, 8 February 2023. The 29th FAICO Sponsors Assembly was held last Wednesday, 25 January, at the Aurola Holiday Inn Hotel in San José.
The activity was attended by assembly members, the Vice Minister of the Environment, Mr. Rafael Gutiérrez, the Director of the Cocos Marine Conservation Area, Mrs. Gina Cuza Jones, officials from the regional office and its protected areas, and special guests.

During the assembly, Faico presented its work report for 2022 and carried out the election of the members of the Administrative Board.

29va Asamblea de Patrocinadores de la Fundación Amigos de la Isla del Coco


During 2022, FAICO consolidated base actions with the objective of promoting the implementation of the new ACMC marine protected areas (MPAs), based on its strategic lines of action, the construction of strategic partnerships, and financial sustainability of this conservation area.

The pillars and main activities are:

1. Promote the representativeness and effectiveness of the
management of Cocos Island, the Seamounts, and the Eastern
Tropical Pacific

As part of the cooperation framework agreement with the ACMC, FAICO hired a consulting team to prepare the General Management Plan for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and other management tools, as part of the support provided for the expansion of the ACMC’s marine protected areas. The initial amount of the contract is approximately $116,000, according to the terms of reference published in June 2022.

In addition, the ACMC work team was strengthened by hiring two GIS and ICT professionals, supporting the implementation of the management tools of Cocos Island National Park (CINP) and the Bicentennial Marine Management Area (BMMA). The initial investment for 12 months amounts to $52,000.

During the celebration, the 44th anniversary of CINP was celebrated, recognizing Dr. Jorge Cortés for his career in research and his invaluable contributions to the knowledge of ecosystems and marine biodiversity of Cocos Island. During the celebration, ACMC and FAICO officials participated in different media, generating 33 stories on television, digital means, written media and radio, with an advertising value of $230,000.

In November 2022, the Park Ranger Quality of Life Program was relaunched, consolidating cooperation and delivery of equipment valued at $66,000. As part of this activity, a forum was held with park rangers and partners.

The ACMC, with the support of FAICO and other partners, developed activities of the Guardians of the Sea Program, an environmental education initiative that included tours in educational centers and communities in the Gulf of Nicoya to disseminate educational materials on marine conservation.

FAICO also continued research on microplastics in marine and freshwater environments at CINP, in partnership with Universidad Nacional.

  1. Consolidate partnerships in favor of Cocos Island, the Seamounts, and the Eastern Tropical Pacific.

FAICO has focused on increasing and diversifying its local and regional support. In March 2022, a collaboration agreement was signed with INCOPESCA in order to promote joint actions for the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources and to strengthen inter-institutional work for the effective management of the ACMC MPAs.

FAICO e INCOPESCA firman acuerdo de cooperación

En marzo del 2022 se firmó un convenio de colaboración con el INCOPESCA

In addition, two regional agreements were subscribed with the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation, and the agreement with the Charles Darwin Foundation was renewed, with the objective of implementing direct conservation actions in the ACMC, allowing synergies to be identified on issues related to terrestrial and marine ecosystem restoration, threat reduction, biological monitoring, exchange of experiences among park rangers, and development of CMAR MPA management tools. In December 2022, FAICO participated in the panel “Regional Conservation Efforts in the Eastern Tropical Pacific” organized by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Betty Moore Foundation.

Also in August 2022, Open Earth and FAICO organized a workshop to explore emerging digital innovations and scale up funding for MPAs. In addition, Open Earth and FAICO met with government authorities, embassies of partner countries and representatives of NGOs to present the project proposal.

3. Consolidate FAICO´s governance and capacity building 

The Friends of Cocos Island Foundation has strengthened its governance and management capacities in recent years, thanks to the vision and commitment of its Administrative Board. With an operational team made up of six professionals, FAICO has undertaken the role of strategic partner for authorities and stakeholders related to the management of the ACMC Marine Protected Areas.

In May 2022, Mr. Gabriel Rodríguez, Biotechnology Engineer and former adviser to the Vice Ministry of Water and Seas, took on the position of Project Manager at FAICO. In addition, Ms. Jenifer Madrigal and Ms. Marcela Granados were hired for the Financial/Administrative Department.

FAICO has held strategic meetings with government authorities, including the Minister of Environment and Energy, the Vice Minister of Environment, and the Minister of Fisheries, as well as with the Legislative Branch and new local and regional partners. This has allowed FAICO to be seen as a solid and growing organization by donors and regional bodies.


In addition, in February 2022, FAICO bestowed the “Cocos Island Award, a World Heritage Site”. This program recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations in favor of conservation and sustainable development, philanthropy, international cooperation, science and research, education and communications, and arts and humanities. The ten laureates received a commemorative UNESCO diploma and medal.

“Este homenaje refleja el compromiso de la Fundación Amigos de Isla del Coco de reconocer y valorar el trabajo de aquellas personas y organizaciones que han contribuido a la conservación y desarrollo sostenible de la Isla del Coco, un patrimonio natural de la humanidad” ” dijo el presidente de la Junta Administrativa, Carlos Manuel Uribe.

“This tribute reflects the commitment of the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation to recognize and value the work of those people and organizations that have contributed to the conservation and sustainable development of Cocos Island, a natural heritage of humanity” said the Chairman of the Administrative Board, Carlos Manuel Uribe.

4. Enhance fundraising capacities

FAICO has managed to increase its fundraising capabilities in recent years, allowing it to maintain constant support for the ACMC, execute innovative projects, and support the implementation of the new ACMC MPAs. During 2022, FAICO managed to obtain key contributions from private companies and international donors, such as Cuestamoras, the Uribe Sáenz Family, SC Johnson de  Centroamérica, the Wyss Foundation, Re:wild, and the Bezos Earth Fund, for a total amount of $1,155,000. 

Since 2017, FAICO has managed approximately $5 million in funds from different partners and allies, including financing from the Blue Action Fund achieved in 2021, as a result of a consortium with CIMAR, UWB, and Marviva, as well as partnerships with other organizations such as the Waitt Foundation, Oceans 5, Blue Nature Alliance, Wyss Foundation, CARSI, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The execution of these funds goes from 2017 to 2026, approximately. 


Undoubtedly, raising awareness among government authorities and different users of the sea on marine conservation issues is crucial and requires a collaborative effort from different stakeholders. Marine environmental policy has evolved due to governmental changes, and our organization has been resilient in this process. The implementation of ACMC MPAs and the formulation of management tools during 2023 faces challenges such as inter-institutional coordination and an ideal participation of users. 

Therefore, it is important to get more partners, improve articulation, and strengthen current processes. The process of expanding MPAs between 2017 and 2022 has allowed the acquisition of knowledge and learning. It is necessary to visualize the contribution of the different partners to complement efforts in conservation and sustainability in Cocos Island.

The Vice Minister of Environment, Mr. Rafael Gutiérrez, highlighted the importance of collaboration between the public and private sectors to achieve adequate protection for the island, and he was especially pleased with the work that the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation has conducted.

The Director of the Cocos Marine Conservation Area, Mrs. Gina Cuza, was also pleased with the contribution and commitment shown by the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation and highlighted the importance of continuing to work together to ensure the conservation of this valuable natural heritage for future generations.

Viceministro de Ambiente de Costa Rica, Rafael Gutiérrez

Viceministro de Ambiente de Costa Rica, Rafael Gutiérrez

“Marine conservation is a challenge that requires a constant and collaborative effort from all parties involved. As Executive Director of FAICO, I am proud to be a part of this fight and to work tirelessly to promote a comprehensive and sustainable approach to the management and protection of our oceans. It is essential to join forces and add efforts to achieve a sustainable future for our seas and coasts” said Alejandra Villalobos, Executive Director of FAICO.

The Assembly of Sponsors of the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation is an opportunity to discuss the line of work and strategies that will allow us to continue with the sustainable management and conservation of this island that is so important for the country and for the World.