Last month ACS led a workshop focused on designing new solutions to coastal challenges in Latin America. Held at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City, over 30 scientists, architects, and planners participated, representing multiple countries along the Pacific coast of the Americas. We spent a day working with experts from Canada to Chile on designing a program that would promote new solutions across Latin America. Working with partners Cornell University and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, ACS is designing a ten-year fellowship program to tackle environmental challenges in coastal areas.

The goal of the Coastal Solutions Fellows Program is to build, train, and support a collaborative network of scientists, developers, and planners who are designing and implementing new evidence-based solutions to coastal environmental challenges in Latin America. For the next decade, the Program will support the development of innovative solutions for conservation and development in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway. From Mexico to Chile, dozens of coastal sites provide critical habitat for millions of migrating shorebirds. Shorebirds exemplify the connectedness, wonder, and complexity of nature by migrating annually from breeding sites in the Arctic to key wintering sites in Latin America. Many species are endangered, partly because these coastal sites are threatened by development, climate change, and other dynamic processes. Coastal Solutions Fellows will collaborate across sectors to develop new evidence-based approaches to improve the protection of shorebirds and their habitats in Latin America along the Pacific Americas Flyway.

The greatest threats to the Pacific Americas Flyway in Latin America are various types of business as usual coastal development, including urban, tourism, and aquaculture. These threats are exacerbated by current and projected impacts associated to climate change. Effective solutions that target and reduce these threats will require collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers. Yet, opportunities for developing cross-sector collaborations are rare. The Coastal Solutions Fellows Program exists to spark new collaborations between scientists, planners, and developers by promoting peer-to-peer learning, providing strategic trainings, and challenging fellows to develop site-based coastal solutions along the Pacific Americas Flyway.