"Improving water quality, enhancing economic vitality and restoring marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico"
The Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world and the largest semi-enclosed coastal sea in the Western Atlantic.
1.6 million km2
Approximately 1,500 km at its widest point and 4,384 m at its deepest.
Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
Its eastern, northern and north-western shores span 2,700 km and border five U.S. states.
Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan and the northernmost tip of Quintana Roo
Its south-western and southern shores span 2,243 km and border five Mexican states.
Why is the Gulf important?
The distinctive geographic and biophysical characteristics of the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem (GoM-LME) make it an important global reservoir of biodiversity and one of the most productive of the 66 LMEs in the world.
What are the problems threatening the GoM-LME?
Pollution including eutrophication and harmful algal blooms
Total nitrogen load delivered from river basins into coastal areas doubled during the 20th century. The total phosphorus load also increased significantly over the same period. Agricultural runoff accounts for nearly 60% of nitrogen inputs, while sewage accounts for 9%.
Habitat modification (wetland loss, connectivity, loss of resilience)
Changes in biomass as a result of habitat modification (that is, the loss of critical habitats and connectivity from poorly planned growth in coastal and urban areas).
Overfishing of shared, migratory, and connected fish stocks
Changes in biomass as a result of intensive, illegal, unreported, or unregulated fishing resulting in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms and red tide events.
These threats collectively result in low oxygen extended events or hypoxia. The extent of hypoxia on the GoM’s northern continental shelf makes this “dead zone” the second-largest manifestation of anthropogenic coastal eutrophication in the world.
What is being done, by whom and how?
In 2018, the 2013 Strategic Action Program Implementation project, with the objective of “improving water quality; enhance economic vitality by avoiding depletion and recover living marine resources; and conserve and restore coastal and marine ecosystems for the GoM-LME” was transferred to UNEP.
The project is based on an “ecosystem-based management (EBM)”. EBM is an approach that goes beyond examining single issues, species, or ecosystem functions in isolation. Instead, it recognizes ecological systems as a rich mix of elements that interact with each other in important ways. By their nature, EBMs promote a cross-sectoral coordination approach across fisheries, maritime, energy, agriculture, coastal development and environment, and other related sectors.
Expected Impact Components
The goal of the project is to improve water quality, avoid depletion and recover living marine resources and rehabilitate the coastal and marine ecosystems of the GoM-LME.
COMPONENT 1. Improve water quality
By addressing pollution resulting from industrial wastewater emissions, the project will measurably improve water quality by reducing HABs and mitigating hypoxic zones.
COMPONENT 2. Avoid depletion and recover living marine resources
The project will contribute to reducing the depletion of targeted fish stocks through the implementation of measures such as regulatory framework updates and enforcement, capacity development, and monitoring.
COMPONENT 3. Conserve and restore the quality of coastal and marine ecosystems
The project will improve coastal and marine ecosystem health through the use of EBM.
Proposed intervention sites
What are the barriers to change?
The political complexity of the GoM-LME region and the economic differences between the bordering nations
The relatively low awareness of decision makers and of the general population regarding the impacts of economic activities on the sustainability of the GoM-LME
The poor entrepreneurial culture among fisheries
The limited dialogue between the government and the private sector, as well as other key stakeholders such as policymakers and the local communities
The need for a strengthened regional transboundary cooperation
The limited mainstreaming of climate change adaptation in GoM-LME governance and management interventions
Life below water
by integrating EBM approaches for the sustainable management of marine biodiversity and habitat protection
Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
by ensuring participation from domestic industries, and promoting adoption of cleaner production approaches for sustainable environment friendly economic growth
Clean Water and Sanitation
by facilitating activities and building capacity to treat anthropogenic wastewater
by ensuring mechanisms for monitoring and ensuring the nutrient level in agricultural run-offs is managed and water quality is maintained
by ensuring participation of women within the communities, particularly around post-harvest activities
Who is involved?
Implementing & Executing agencies
National Focal Points
Associates and Collaborators
Project Coordination Unit
Administrative and communication officer firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical specialist for Component 1 email@example.com
Ana Karen BUSTAMANTE
Technical specialist (for Component 2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Technical specialist for Component 3 email@example.com
Administrative and office assistant firstname.lastname@example.org
IW:LEARN is the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF) International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network. GEF IW:LEARN is co-implemented by UNDP and UNEP, and executed by IOC/UNESCO.
UNOPS Water, Environment and Climate (WEC) portfolio supports key climate initiatives and projects, and provides financial, grant and project management services on behalf of global funds and together with partners.
The Coastal Marine Information and Analysis System (SIMAR) is developed by CONABIO and is based on bioinformatic geointelligence that integrates algorithms, technological tools and analysis, to support knowledge of the seas and coasts, the conservation and sustainable use of coastal marine biodiversity.
July 12th, 2023. Mexico City
1° Project Steerring Committee meeting
July 13th, 2023. Mexico City
1° Implementation Coordination Group meeting
October 12th, 2023. Mérida
1° Technical Workshop
October 13th, 2023. Mérida