Discussion group for the ocean at the Manuel María de Peralta Diplomatic Academy
On 16 November 2023, the Manuel María de Peralta Diplomatic Academy and the Foreign Policy Directorate, both from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, organized a discussion group together with Friends of Cocos Island Foundation (FAICO). It was possible to establish a transcendental dialogue, under the title «Cocos Island: Biodiversity and Natural Laboratory for Humanity, in International Cooperation for its Conservation.»
With the assistance of more than 40 officials from Costa Rican diplomatic missions worldwide and from different departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it was possible to have a space for learning, reflection, and dialogue about how our country managed to create a conservation strategy that contemplates 31% of its jurisdictional waters.
This becomes a fundamental input so that the different diplomatic missions of our country are aware of the current situation of the Costa Rican marine policy and its recent changes. Furthermore, they can complement the defense of the environmental commitments that our country maintains at the international level.
Costa Rica: Leader in Marine Conservation
The event highlighted the leadership exercised by Costa Rica in the conservation of its marine treasures. Expert panelists shared perspectives on the Cocos Marine Conservation Area and its marine protected areas (MPAs): the Bicentennial Marine Management Area and the Cocos Island National Park. These MPAs are not only a testimony to the exuberance of marine biodiversity but also a unique natural laboratory.
For the Cocos Marine Conservation Area, it is essential to transmit in different spaces the value that the Cocos Island National Park has for the conservation of biodiversity and the role it plays in the socioeconomic dynamics of our country. We are very pleased by the opportunity that the Manuel Maria de Peralta Diplomatic Academy gave us. We are convinced that due to the role played by its students and diplomats who graduated from the academy, this process for raising awareness and generating knowledge opens the doors in the search of new allies for the conservation of our National Park.
Concerns and Threats to Marine Protected Areas
Although Costa Rica stands out for its environmental commitments to marine conservation, the panelists expressed their concerns about the various threats faced by our MPAs. Illegal fishing, invasion of exotic species, and the effects of climate change are some of the main issues that require urgent joint actions to preserve these valuable ecosystems. Alejandra Villalobos, Executive Director of FAICO; Debbie López, FAICO´s Marine Science Officer, specialized in marine and freshwater resource management; Diego Torres, Coordinator of the Sustainable Tourism Program of the Cocos Marine Conservation Area of the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC); along with scientist Dr. Jorge Cortés Núnez, who was able to provide an exquisite presentation on the wealth offered by the depths of the Costa Rican Pacific Ocean, were in charge of these explanations.
Transformative Project and Key Stakeholders
This conversation frames the need to partner in a common effort to preserve and responsibly manage the ecosystem services and marine and island resources of the Cocos Marine Conservation Area.
Different key organizations such as Friends of Cocos Island play a fundamental role in this mission, but only through the support of political authorities and different sectors of society is it possible to reach minimum agreements that allow us to safeguard our immense maritime territory.
This project was made possible thanks to the support of the Blue Nature Alliance.