Within the framework of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the presidents of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama signed a declaration to permit the extension of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, which links the marine reserves of these countries, forming an interconnected protected area.
The proposed extension will create the largest and most biologically rich corridor in the world. In addition, a fishing-free corridor covering more than 500,000 will be integrated into one of the most important migratory routes in the world for sea turtles, whales, sharks and manta rays.
With the signing of the declaration, the four countries will strengthen their protected areas and initiate a regional process that will include the possible establishment of a transboundary marine biosphere reserve between the islands of Coco, Malpelo, Coiba and Galapagos. The Government of Spain will support this initiative through the framework of its voluntary contributions to UNESCO.
This marine area of the Eastern Tropical Pacific is home to five Natural World Heritage Sites: Cocos Island National Park (Costa Rica); the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve (Ecuador), which forms part of the UNESCO Galapagos Biosphere Reserve; the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (Colombia); and Gorgona National Natural Park (Colombia); and Coiba National Park (Panama).
The Eastern Tropical Pacific also has the highest indices of endemism in the world – to date, 160 endemic and migratory endangered species have been identified. This high level of biodiversity is due in part to the convergence of multiple ocean currents that have shaped the distinctive underwater seascape.
This declaration is the latest joint action taken by these countries to achieve the targets of the High Ambition Coalition for Nature (30×30 Coalition) to protect at least 30% of oceans and terrestrial resources by 2030.