Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO)
To foster vibrant communities and resilient ecosystems in the Northern Gulf of California
and other ecoregions by integrating people, knowledge and solutions.
Thriving coastal communities, sustainable livelihoods AND healthy ecosystems.
Overview and History
The Intercultural Center for the Studies of Deserts and Oceans (CEDO) is an active conservation, research, and education center that has been informing, inspiring, and empowering stewards for healthy Gulf of California ecosystems for nearly 40 years. “CEDO” comes from their Spanish name: Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos. They first opened their doors in 1980 at their field station in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, just 4 hours’ drive from Phoenix and Tucson, and world-class, state universities, and five hours from Hermosillo and Mexicali.
Field research was among the first activities of their young institution, and through partnerships with visiting researchers from across the U.S. and Mexico, in addition to community-based monitoring projects, and their own studies, CEDO built an integrated research program from the ground-up. This collaboration quickly advanced their understanding of the northern Gulf of California and its biophysical, ecological and socioeconomic features, such that it is now one of the most thoroughly researched habitats in the Gulf.
But with population growth, the influx of tourism, and increasing pressure on marine and coastal resources, the research showed a disturbing trend; impacts to species, habitats, and ecological processes were growing and getting less sustainable. With this in-depth knowledge, a unique vision emerged: a future where vibrant coastal communities would actively participate in managing their livelihoods in balance with healthy and resilient ecosystems. It became their urgent mission to bring local people together with knowledge and solutions, and to work together for a more sustainable future in a way that prioritized traditional livelihoods and economic needs.
Almost 40 years later, CEDO’s roots have grown deeper and stronger than ever, with community-led efforts for conservation, sustainable development, and environmental education that have gained the attention and support of decision-makers and natural resource managers at the highest levels of government. CEDO’s integrated approach combines a wide array of disciplines (education, capacity building, research & monitoring, climate-change assessment & adaptation, and economic initiatives), and is being scaled to address the needs of more than nine coastal communities where thousands of people make their living from small-scale fisheries, tourism and associated economies.
CEDO has grown from a staff of two – their founding members, Peggy and Rick Boyer, to a dedicated team of more than 26 people. With an annual budget approaching $2 million, they have become a global leader in education, ecosystem management, and coastal-marine spatial planning. They believe that successful, holistic solutions to complex problems can only spring from a sturdy foundation of community engagement and development, and have found that hope for a better future is the best incentive for catalyzing a positive sea-change in their relationship with the environment.
They invite you to join them on this exciting journey, as they continue to strengthen and challenge coastal communities, and all of their friends and family, to become stewards of the future, of their precious oceans, their biodiversity, and the many services they provide to their global society.
How they operate:
They are a binational organization, incorporated as not for profit, non-governmental organizations in Mexico and the U.S (as a 501-c-3 organization). CEDO Intercultural is a unique collaboration between parties in Mexico and the United States, with board members drawn from five cities across both countries. They operate through a United Executive Committee, and pools their resources and experiences to offer realistic, community-based solutions to regional and global environmental problems.
They recognize, respect, and leverage the cultural, socioeconomic, and biological connections, as well as the differences, between the U.S. and Mexico, and their programs are designed to build bridges, not barriers. Their world-class field station facilities support researchers and school groups studying in the area, while their on-site exhibits and educational programs, including field trips, nature-talks and ecotours, offer the general public a glimpse into the fascinating natural history of an incomparable region of their planet.
CEDO’s approach is progressive in that their work considers the whole ecosystem, including human communities, the changes induced by global warming, fisheries and other essential economies, biodiversity and habitats, and the full range of services that natural resources and processes provide to diverse people. They are committed to fostering an environmental culture and bringing all the region’s stakeholders into a transparent and participatory decision-making process. We also lead by example by respecting, implementing and seeing to the enforcement of the essential social and legal contracts that follow this collective process.
Their core values are:
Teamwork: developing excellence, responsibility, pride, enjoyment and satisfaction for all members.
Service: providing specific services focused on the sustainable use and management of the region’s natural resources.
Innovation: creating innovative solutions for sustainable livelihoods that leverage local knowledge, gained experience, and new ideas.
Inclusion: promoting active participation of stakeholders, and a diversity of ideas and cultures.
Social Responsibility: sharing knowledge and resources with local communities so that they can take advantage of socioeconomic opportunities that arise and contribute to the sustainable use of ecosystems.
Legality: promoting the adherence to and compliance with the legal framework governing the management and use of ecosystems by all the actors involved.
Environmental Responsibility: using institutional resources in a sustainable way, and focusing their actions on the responsible use of natural resources.