More than 20 marine protected area (MPA) professionals joined a ‘training of trainers’ event organised by the Ocean Governance project’s Resilience twinning in Cancun, Mexico, from 5 to 7 October 2023. It followed similar capacity-building workshops in the USA, Brazil and Colombia in the past six months.

The training workshop was organised back-to-back with Mexico’s first national meeting of MPA managers, on 2-4 October, and hosted by the national protected areas commission (Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, CONANP). The commission lent the resilience workshop considerable institutional support, buoyed by a prevailing political context that is favourable to scaling up conservation of marine ecosystems and strengthening MPA management in Mexico. The reasons for this dynamic became clear during the field trip.

The participants included 22 MPA managers, responsible for 31 MPAs on Mexico’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts. All were trained in using the resilience self-assessment tool (R-SAT).

For the Resilience partnership, Jean-Jacques Goussard and Lilian Wetzel led the training. They shared good practices employed in Brazil, Gabon, Mexico, Portugal, Senegal and the USA to deal with rapid changes linked to climate change and tourism. They presented the tool, along with feedback about it from other users. The participants were supported in a practical exercise to assess an MPA they managed, then to enter the data into the platform and finally to reflect and interpret the results graph produced.

The workshop accomplished its goals of training MPA managers to coach other managers and MPAs to conduct assessments in their regions. It contributed to consolidate the methodology applied in the R-SAT trainings, adjusting it to local needs. The feedback on the event was very positive, with broad appreciation for the tool’s value as well as suggestions for how it – and related training sessions – might be enhanced in the future.

The group also took part in a highly instructive field trip to a protected coral restoration site in Costa Occidental National Park of Isla Mujeres. Organised for the national meeting and supported in part by the OG project, the field trip saw participants take boats to dive to view a coral nursery offshore near Cancun. Coral species Acropora Palmata, Acropora Cervicornis and Acropora Prolifera are nursed at 8 metre depths in artificial structures formed of concrete bases and PVC tubes to hold the coral fragments. The nursery was set up to address the loss of coral colonies due to climate-induced bleaching and stony coral tissue loss disease (SCLTD), which is having downstream effects on coastal ecosystems and the tourism-based economy.