Functioning watersheds in the face of climate change

Mexican Fund for Nature Conservation (FMCN)
Published: 09 November 2015
Last edited: 05 September 2017
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This solution promotes the integrated management of coastal watersheds that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California by aligning the investments of public and private agencies to address climate change impacts and coastal and marine conservation. It is the foundation for enduring cross-sectorial coordination and local participation to maintain and recover watershed functions that deliver ecosystem services, which benefit cities and rural communities.


North America
Scale of implementation
Coastal forest
Coral reef
Freshwater ecosystems
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Salt marsh
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Coastal and marine spatial management
Ecosystem services
Sustainable development goals
SDG 14 – Life below water
Aichi targets
Target 6: Sustainable management of aquatic living resources
Target 14: Ecosystem services




  • Uncoordinated inter-institutional efforts
  • Private and public investments not aligned
  • Limited involvement from stakeholders and lack of funding for conservation
  • Impacts predicted by climate change models, including a higher intensity of hurricanes and wildfires as well as increased drought in the coastal watersheds
  • Loss of watershed functions
  • Decrease in ecosystem services provision, e.g. clean water


  • Rural forestry communities that inhabit the upper and middle watersheds
  • Coastal communities
  • Local civil society organizations

How do the building blocks interact?

Public institutions that invest in the management of coastal watersheds are represented in the technical committee along with the institution responsible for managing private grants. Investment decisions are based on actions identified in the Watershed Plans, which are developed with local stakeholder participation. Therefore, stakeholder participation and investment are aligned, ensuring transparency and close coordination of the project.


  • Inter-institutional collaboration has positive impacts on coastal watersheds by aligning public agencies investment towards a common goal. For example, the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change (INECC), a federal institution within the Environmental Ministry responsible for using scientific information to build public policies, requested that the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR), the federal agency responsible of the forest policy in Mexico, redesign its soil conservation strategy, based on scientific evidence on erosion impacts. A public fund was created by one of the states where the watersheds are found to support projects that increase connectivity within the watersheds.
  • Inter-institutional collaboration promotes coordinated management by the forest management and protected area management agencies. Forest managers are now seeking to invest in conservation activities based on the protected areas management plans.


Coastal watersheds within the state of Sinaloa are threatened by illegal resource extraction in this remote area. Conservation activities in this region are scarce and to coordinate efforts, stakeholders collaborated and support each other to address this complex problem. The project allowed regional public institutions and civil society organizations to get together and form a working group to implement the project at the state level. Public agencies organize dialogues to discuss how to better invest in the mangement of watersheds, and local civil society organizations are working together with public institutions. This initiative is thus strengthening conservation activities even in dangerous environments.

Contributed by

Paola Bauche Petersen FONNOR Mexico


Fondo Noroeste (FONNOR) Mexico