Our Mission: 

To foster vibrant communities and resilient ecosystems in the Northern Gulf of California

and other ecoregions by integrating people, knowledge and solutions.

Our Vision:

Thriving coastal communities, sustainable livelihoods AND healthy ecosystems.

Overview & 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 our Spanish name: Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos. We first opened our doors in 1980 at our 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 our young institution, and through partnerships with visiting researchers from across the U.S. and Mexico, in addition to community-based monitoring projects, and our own studies, CEDO built an integrated research program from the ground-up. This collaboration quickly advanced our 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 our 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 – our founding members, Peggy and Rick Boyer, to a dedicated team of more than 26 people. With an annual budget approaching $2 million, we have become a global leader in education, ecosystem management, and coastal-marine spatial planning. We 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 our relationship with the environment.

We invite you to join us on this exciting journey, as we continue to strengthen and challenge coastal communities, and all of our friends and family, to become stewards of the future, of our precious oceans, their biodiversity, and the many services they provide to our global society.

How we operate:

We 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.  We operate through a United  Executive Committee, and pools our resources and experiences to offer realistic, community-based solutions to regional and global environmental problems.

We recognize, respect, and leverage the cultural, socioeconomic, and biological connections, as well as the differences, between the U.S. and Mexico, and our programs are designed to build bridges, not barriers. Our world-class field station facilities support researchers and school groups studying in the area, while our 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 our planet.

CEDO’s approach is progressive in that our 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. We 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.

Where we work:

CEDO has offices in both Tucson, Arizona, and directly on the shores of the northern Gulf of California, in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico. Our Executive Director, Communications & Development Coordinator, and a US Administrative Assistant are based in Tucson, while the majority of our staff works from at the Field Station offices in Mexico. We are truly a bi-national and bi-cultural organization, and we also have remote staff working as far South as La Paz, Baja California, and as far North as Seattle, Washington.

Located in the Las Conchas housing development, the “Jewel of Sonora,” CEDO’s campus sits atop one of the highest dunes East of the town center, and is outlined by a sinuous wall and elegant entry gate designed by artist Joseph P. McShane. The main edifice, the Agustín Cortéz building, has an open patio courtyard and a balcony overlooking the sparkling Sea of Cortez, and was constructed prior to CEDO’s opening in 1980. In 1985, a 16.7 meter (54.8 ft) fin whale skeleton, that washed ashore in our local estuary, was exhibited on the grounds creating an important icon for all of Puerto Peñasco and kicking off a whale of a story.

This first exhibit solidified CEDO’s commitment to public education, together with our Visitors’ Center, built by volunteers of recycled tires and aluminum cans as an “Earthship” construction in the early 2000’s. The entire campus is a multi-use facility, and is open to everyone with an interest in the region’s people, places and biodiversity. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents have participated with CEDO in field trips, eco-tours, environmental contests, research projects, public talks, summer camps and more, and we continue to grow so as to keep pace with the demand for knowledge and positive changes.

Our 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 our actions on the responsible use of natural resources.

Awards & Recognitions

Many people have made CEDO what it is today by working tirelessly with local, state and federal authorities, fishermen, schools, civic organizations, and others to find sustainable ways for local communities and ecosystems to thrive. CEDO has been acknowledged for excellence in research, conservation, and science education almost since our inception…