Central America: Regional Program for Environmental Governance and Resilience in the Gulf of Fonseca

The regional program fosters shared governance of natural resources to build resilience in the coastal communities of the Gulf of Fonseca. It contributes to the protection and sustainable use of the shared mangrove ecosystem of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. Switzerland sees this gulf region as a priority for its high levels of poverty and extreme vulnerability to climate change. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central America
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
01.06.2020 - 31.12.2024
CHF 11'400'000

The regional program operates under two regional processes: the tripartite accord for the development of Gulf of Fonseca (GoF) between El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua and the updating of the 2018 -2022 Regional Climate Change Strategy (ERCC), led by the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD).

In 2017, the presidents of El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua signed an agreement to promote tri-national development in the GoF. With the support of the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), a master plan for investment in large infrastructure projects to kick-start tourism and trade was formulated. This plan also has an environmental chapter under which Switzerland can support environmental stewardship and participation by the GoF communities, who are the most affected by climatic events.

CCAD requested SDC support for the implementation of the updated ERCC in the GoF. This is an opportunity to address livelihood problems that are shared by communities in the three countries. Key problems such as water pollution, environmental degradation and depletion of fisheries will be addressed by environmental governance, i.e. dialogue and consensus, and community-level environmental protection measures.

Mangrove conservation is not an end in itself but a means to address shared social and environmental problems. Due to their economic and environmental value, mangroves are key ecosystems for coastal communities. Public and private, local and municipal, and national and trinational interests intersect. Switzerland will work with stakeholders at the different levels through two components:

Regional policy and dialogue: Dialogue and tri-national agreement are promoted to align the ERCC with national policy priorities in the GoF. Institutions that contribute to resolving socio-environmental conflicts at different levels are strengthened. For this purpose, a contribution will be made to the CCAD.

Resilience and local governance: This component supports ERCC territorial implementation that aims to promote sustainable economic alternatives (artisanal fishing, ecotourism) and to protect and restore mangroves. The strengthening of local governance mechanisms with regard to natural resource management will enable the coastal communities to make their voices heard in the regional policy dialogue. A competitive fund is created to promote innovative conservation and economic sustainability initiatives with the participation of the private sector and the most vulnerable populations. This component will be tendered internationally.

This program will draw upon SDC’s extensive experience and good reputation in natural resource management, DRR (disaster risk reduction), and participatory governance. The water governance and human rights programs in Honduras will serve as reference points.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
  • Other international or foreign NGO North

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   11'400'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   0