The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS or MAR) is the largest reef ecosystem in America and the second largest in the world, measuring almost 1,000 km from the extreme north of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Caribbean coasts of Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

On January 19, 2021, The Ocean Foundation in partnership with Metroeconomica and World Resources Institute of Mexico (WRI) hosted a workshop to present the results of their study “Economic Valuation of the Ecosystem Services of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System”. The study was financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and aimed to estimate the economic value of the ecosystem services of coral reefs in the MAR as well as to explain the importance of the conservation of MAR in order to better inform decisionmakers.

During the workshop, researchers shared the results of the economic valuation of the MAR ecosystem services. There were more than 100 attendees from the four countries that constitute the MAR—Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Among the attendees were academics, NGOs, and decisionmakers.

Participants also presented on the important work of other projects in the region that aim to protect, conserve, and sustainably use the ecosystem and its biodiversity, such as the Integrated Management Project from the Watershed to the Reef of the Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion (MAR2R), Summit of Sustainable and Social Tourism, and the Healthy Reefs Initiative (HRI).

Participants were divided into breakout groups by country where they expressed the value of studies like this one to contribute to the improvement of public policies for the protection and conservation of terrestrial, coastal, and marine ecosystems. They also stated the need to empower local communities with the dissemination of the results and establish synergies with other sectors such as tourism and service providers.

On behalf of TOF, WRI, and Metroeconomica, we would like to thank the governments for their valuable support in providing information, as well as their observations and comments to enrich this exercise.