The Geneva-based Oak Foundation has announced a $10 million investment in an endowment that will support marine conservation efforts in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico.
To be matched with $15 million in additional funding, the Mesoamerican Reef Fund will provide long-term financial sustainability to natural resource management and conservation initiatives in the four countries. The endowment is part of a shift in Oak's strategy after two decades during which it provided $46 million in direct support of marine conservation efforts in Belize and surrounding countries. According to the foundation, 30 percent of Mesoamerican territorial waters are now under some form of protection, and the region is the first to have a long-term monitoring system and framework in place, leading to the successful protection of several key marine species.
To ensure that future marine conservation efforts in the region continue to receive support, Oak has awarded multiyear grants to many of its grantees, enabling them to continue their work for another three to five years, and will provide capacity-building support to help ensure their organizational sustainability. In addition, a program associate from the foundation will continue to work in Belize over the next year to follow up on the evaluation of existing projects.
"Many of these achievements would not have been possible without the support of the committed governments in Mesoamerica," the foundation said in a statement. "We hope that they continue to support marine conservation, and we look forward to celebrating more policies that protect the environment in the coming years."