Coastal Climate Change Adaptation: Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

The Philippines’ marine biodiversity is a key source of food security and livelihoods for the 6 out of 10 Filipinos in coastal communities, 40% of whom live in poverty (World Bank 2005).

However, poor coastal planning, weak coastal governance, unsustainable fishing and population growth have put extraordinary pressures on Philippine ecosystems and society over the last three decades. This is evident in coastal communities where there is poor MPA governance and enforcement, and a tendency for over-fishing and destructive fishing in and around MPAs to become socially tolerated. The result has been a dramatic reduction in biomass and ecosystem integrity, a trend now amplified by adverse effects of climate change. With 70% of the country's 1,500 municipalities found on coastlines, the Philippines is one of the world's most at-risk nations from climate change (World Bank 2008; Yusuf and Francisco 2010).

Effective management of networks for MPAs to improve ecological integrity and climate resilience is increasingly recognized as key to effective coastal adaptation to climate change and Philippine socio-economic development (World Bank 2006; IUCN-WCPA 2008). Successfully managed MPAs such as Tubbataha and Apo Reefs, as well as municipal MPA networks like Dauin (Negros Oriental) and Camotes (Cebu) represent "bright spots" which show how effectively managed local networks of MPAs can be a "core" institution around which ecological resilience and social adaptive capacity can be built, with support from clusters of Local Government Units (LGUs). As home to more than 25% of the world's approximately 4,800 MPAs, the Philippines presents an opportunity for successful management of MPA, viewed as critical to both preserving global marine biodiversity (Nañola et al. 2010) and demonstrating effective adaptation to climate change.


USAID, through its implementing partner, Rare and other local partners, will build upon its current MPA program in the Philippines and use Rare’s proven Pride approach to train and support local leaders to deploy a combination of social marketing, program management, technical implementation, and scientific monitoring. Key elements include:

  • Integrated social marketing and communication campaigns that transform target communities’ positive engagement in and capacity to address overfishing, climate change adaptation, and related issues.
  • Intense investment in building and embedding local capacity and governance to implement MPA network and climate adaptation management.
  • Creative partnerships between organizations from different sectors (government, academia, NGO, business, etc.)


To improve municipal marine protected area (MPA) networks, covering 25 MPAs that total over 1,500 hectares of MPA No-Take Zones embedded in over 300,000 hectares of municipal fisheries waters.


  • Build coastal communities' social adaptive capacity to climate change through social marketing using the Rare Pride model;
  • Improve Climate Adaptive management of municipal MPA networks;
  • Achieve, adapt, and comprehensively monitor climate adaptation, fisheries, social and conservation outcomes in 14 sites; and
  • Engage supporting institutions and leverage climate adaptation approaches to national scale.


  1. A total of 13 campaigns launched, estimated to reach at least one million people, including up to 80,000 fulltime fishers. 
  2. Improved ecological resilience factors in 13 project sites, such as 10% improvement in coral habitat health by 2015 and 10% increase in fish & invertebrate density and diversity
  3. Reach an audience of an estimated 250,000 coastal stakeholders about MPA network management for coastal adaptation
  4. Up to 13 local conservation fellows trained and graduated with a Masters Degrees on Communication from the University of Texas El Paso
  5. At least another 100 local executives trained through Mayors’ Workshops