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CDB provides funds for poverty reduction in 8 Caribbean countries

The Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says it is providing US$40 million in funding for poverty reduction in eight Caribbean through the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF).

It said the resources will support improved access to quality education; water and sanitation; basic community access and drainage; livelihoods enhancement and human resource development services in low-income and vulnerable communities under the ninth phase of BNTF (BNTF 9).

The countries that will benefit from the initiative are Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.

“The participating countries share many common characteristics and face a number of challenges inherent to small, open economies. BNTF 9 will respond to the development needs of these countries, which face challenges associated with limited diversity in production and extreme vulnerability to natural hazards, which is  now exacerbated by climate change and other external shocks,” said Daniel Best, director of projects at the CDB.

Initiatives under BNTF 9 will be implemented during the period March 2017 to December 2020.

The CDB said that the governments of the eight participating countries will provide total counterpart funding of US$6.4 million.

BNTF has implemented more than 2,750 sub-projects over the past 37 years, directly impacting the lives of more than three million beneficiaries in poor communities,” the CDB said, adding that the programme is its main vehicle for tackling poverty in the region, through the provision of basic infrastructure and skills training towards improving the livelihoods of beneficiaries in participating countries.

Credit: Jamaica Observer

CARICOM prepares positions on imminent UN oceans agreement

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Senior environment officials from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) met recently in Belize as CARICOM rationalises its position on the United Nations (UN) process to establish an international legally binding agreement on sustainable use of marine resources.

The two-day workshop held 20-22 February 2017, in Belize City, Belize, was titled, ‘CARICOM Regional Workshop on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction’.

Foreign Minister of Belize, the Hon. Wilfred Elrington, addressing the opening, said that CARICOM Member States had championed the negotiation and adoption of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which was opened for signature in Jamaica. He also reminded that when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea was constituted, two CARICOM citizens – Edward Laing of Belize and Dolliver Nelson of Grenada, joined the ranks of the first 21 Members of the Tribunal.

“Judge Laing and Judge Nelson are no longer with us, but they, together with other key jurists from our Region, including the sitting Judge Anthony Amos Lucky of Trinidad and Tobago, have left a legacy on the international stage that is definitive of our Region’s commitment to uphold the law of the sea.

“We have now been called upon to address an area of the law of the sea that has not been adequately provided for in the UNCLOS, whether for want of scientific knowledge, implementation, or as a result of governance and legal gaps,” he said.

For CARICOM, he noted, the implementation of this agreement was the only feasible option to ensure that developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in particular, benefited equitably from the conservation, sustainable use and exploitation of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Critically, he said, the agreement presented an opportunity to strengthen the Convention and to help States with the implementation of provisions of UNCLOS relating to resources which would not have been contemplated to be the exclusive domain of any State, however large and industrialised.

Minister Elrington told the gathering of regional experts in the legal field, in fisheries, environment and international relations that it was critical for the meeting to identify the essential elements for a new implementing agreement, taking into account regional interests, the Community’s contributions to the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources and potential benefits to be secured in such an agreement.

The Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, Sustainable Development and Climate Change, also addressed the meeting noting that the wide range of expertise gathered at the meeting reflected the complexity of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

This multi-sectoral approach was necessary, he said, to address the complexities of the issue. He urged the participants to use the platform for knowledge-building, sharing and networking, and to establish a solid foundation upon which the CARICOM could formulate well-informed positions.

The meeting engaged in technical discussions on the proposed Implementing Agreement under the United Nations Law of the Sea on Biodiversity beyond National Jurisdiction. It identified areas for further study and research for the Region to enhance its participation in the preparatory process. It also identified key actions to be taken at the national and regional level ahead of the next Preparatory meeting of the United Nations scheduled for March 27th to 7th April 2017.

Credit: CARICOM Today

CDB approves US$306 million in loans, grants in 2016

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CDB President, Dr William Warren Smith

In 2016, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved US$306 million in loans and grants, the highest approval total during the past five years. And of the countries for which funding was approved, Belize, Saint Lucia and Suriname were the three largest beneficiaries of loans.

Dr William Warren Smith, CDB president, made this announcement during the bank’s annual news conference on Friday, February 17, in Barbados.

Smith pointed out that, in addition to the grants approved in 2016, the Bank began implementing the United Kingdom Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UK CIF). UK CIF is a £300 million grant programme for transformational infrastructure projects in eight Caribbean countries and one British overseas territory, which CDB administers. £16.4 million in grants was approved for projects and technical assistance in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica and Grenada.

“We reached noteworthy milestones in deepening our strategic partnerships and successfully mobilising financial resources that our BMCs can use to craft appropriate responses to their development challenges,” said Smith, noting that UK CIF was among the bank’s partnership highlights in 2016.

Last year, the bank also signed a credit facility agreement with Agence Française de Développement. It included a US$33 million loan to support sustainable infrastructure projects and a EUR3 million grant to fund feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

Also in 2016, CDB entered an arrangement with the government of Canada for the establishment and administration of a CA$5 million fund to build capacity in the energy sector, the Canadian Support to the Energy Sector in the Caribbean Fund.

These recent partnerships are part of the bank’s drive to raise appropriately-priced resources mainly for financing projects with a strong focus on climate adaptation, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

During his statement, Smith highlighted that the bank became an accredited partner institution of both the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund in 2016.

“The Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund have opened new gateways to much-needed grant and or low-cost financing to address climate change vulnerabilities in all of our BMCs,” Smith told the media.

The president also confirmed that, in 2016, CDB completed negotiations for the replenishment of the Special Development Fund (SDF), the bank’s largest pool of concessionary funds. Contributors agreed to an overall programme of US$355 million for the period 2017-2020, and lowered the SDF interest rate from a range of 2 to 2.5 percent to 1 percent. The programme approved includes US$45 million for Haiti and US$40 million for the Basic Needs Trust Fund. This marked the ninth replenishment of the SDF, which helps meet the Caribbean region’s high-priority development needs.

In his statement, Smith also reaffirmed the bank’s commitment to drive sustained and inclusive income growth, complemented by improvements in living standards in its BMCs. This, he said, was critical, as economic growth across the region remains uneven, with fragile recovery expected to continue into 2017.

“At the core of our operations is the desire to better the lives of Caribbean people. That is the context within which we help to design, appraise and evaluate every project we finance,” Smith said.

Credit: Caribbean News Now!

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

Saint Lucia attends marine workshop

Press Release – Leading marine experts from the Caribbean and the UK are joining up this week at a three-day workshop aiming to support the sustainable growth of marine economies in the region.

In the Caribbean region, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are set to benefit from the Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) programme workshop.

The marine workshop, hosted by the British High Commission in Kingston Jamaica, is being attended by senior-level representatives from governments, regional agencies, external science agencies, academia and key donors.

The initiative is part of the UK Government funded CME programme, and follows on from similar consultation events held in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Discussions will focus on what and how shared expertise, collaboration and co-ordination with existing regional projects can best help achieve sustainable blue growth.

Key themes to be addressed will include the opportunities and challenges Caribbean states face in developing their marine economies, including strengthening food security; enabling blue economies, safeguarding the marine environment; and supporting marine resilience.

The CME Programme was announced by the United Kingdom Government at the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) to provide technical support, services and expertise to Commonwealth Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Coastal States in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific. The aim of this support is to promote safe and sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty by harnessing maritime resources, preserving marine environments and facilitating trade.

David Fitton, UK High Commissioner, Jamaica said:

“The marine environment in the Caribbean is uniquely rich in biodiversity, economic potential and cultural importance.  With these opportunities, come immense challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and food security.   The UK seeks to increase prosperity by helping harness maritime resources and preserve the marine environment.

“This Programme plays an important part in this aim.  Through data collection, knowledge-sharing and training, we aim to enable the sustainable development of marine economies in this region and the wider Commonwealth.”

The Programme is being delivered on behalf of the UK Government by a partnership of world-leading UK government marine expertise: the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).

A region-wide project, involving Caribbean and UK climate change experts, has been under way since last April.  The project aims to produce a Marine Climate Change Report Card – a regional evaluation of the impact of climate change on the marine environment.

Cefas project lead and workshop delegate, Paul Buckley said:

 “This the first time ever that experts in the Caribbean and the UK have worked together to co-ordinate existing knowledge on coastal and marine climate change impacts on Caribbean SIDS.   It is clear from our knowledge sharing, that the economic impacts of climate change pose a severe challenge to the low-lying SIDS of the Caribbean. This work aims to help inform national and collaborative decision-making to help mitigate and manage the risks of marine climate change in the region.”

Other projects in the Eastern Caribbean include Sustainable Aquaculture and Fisheries in St Lucia, hydrographic surveying in St Vincent and Grenada and Radar Technology Tide Gauges and Training in St Lucia and elsewhere in the Eastern Caribbean.

Credit: St. Lucia Times

CRFM and fisheries powerhouse, Norway, launch fact-finding mission

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From  left to right: Milton Haughton, CRFM Executive Director; Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; Dr. Johán Williams, Special Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs; and Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, Belize

The Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and the Government of Norway have launched a two-week mission to explore the development of a regional technical assistance project to be funded by Norway. The project would support the region’s fisheries and aquaculture sector by strengthening evidence-based management.

Dr. Åge Høines, Senior Scientist, Institute of Marine Research, Norway; and Dr. Johán Williams, Specialist Director, Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs, began meeting on Monday, January 16, with CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton at the CRFM Secretariat in Belize City, after which the team embarked in a two-week dialogue with 7 CRFM Members States, beginning with senior government officials in Belize.

This regional fact-finding mission is being undertaken within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Cooperation between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Governments of the Nordic Countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, signed by the parties on 20 September 2016 in New York, USA. That MoU identified fisheries as one of the priority areas of cooperation, along with environment, climate change, renewable energy, gender equality, tourism, education, child protection and welfare, and information technology.

“Norway is a powerhouse in fisheries, globally,” Haughton said. “They have excellent systems for research, data collection, resource management, and making decisions based on science; and we need to move more in that direction—strengthening our systems to be able to make better decisions regarding fisheries conservation and management, as well as fisheries development on the basis of good scientific data and information.”

Haughton added that: “We are interested in drawing on the Norwegian knowledge, expertise and technology in various aspects of fisheries and aquaculture, in building our own capacities in CARICOM in fisheries research, statistics, resource management, aquaculture (particularly mariculture), fish processing, value addition, marketing and international trade.”

Principally, the engagement between Norway and the CRFM Member States will focus on building human resource capacity, institutional capacity, and the accuracy and volume of fisheries data and information, with an emphasis on pursuing the ecosystems approach to fisheries development and management.

While in Belize, Høines and Williams had a chance to dialogue with H.E. Daniel Guiterrez, Belize’s Ambassador to CARICOM; Hon. Dr. Omar Figueroa, Belize’s Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development and Climate Change, as well as Fisheries Administrator Beverly Wade.

After leaving Belize on Tuesday, the team, joined by CRFM Executive Director Milton Haughton, travels to Haiti for similar dialogue, as they consult with stakeholders in the field to better define their interests. Next, the team will travel to Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and The Bahamas. While in Guyana, they will meet both with fisheries officials there and officials of the CARICOM Secretariat. The technical mission concludes near the end of January.

Haughton noted that for more than 60 years, Norway has been supporting fisheries research surveys in developing countries using the marine research vessel, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, outfitted with high-level modern technology in marine resource survey. Those vessels have been dispatched in Africa and other parts of the developing world. It is the CRFM’s hope that during the latter half of the proposed project, for the period 2019-2020, the research vessel would be deployed in the Caribbean to conduct surveys to broaden the region’s understanding of the state of its fisheries resources and marine environment. The CRFM also intends to collaborate in this endeavor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission, which is already committed to assisting the region in buildings its fisheries knowledge base.

Credit: The Bahamas Weekly

Belize to Make its Energy Sector More Climate Resilient

 

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photo credit: Jose Sanchez

Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector as a result of a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.

“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major set-backs to our development progress,” he added.

Belize is often in the direct path of tropical storms and hurricanes, which are expected to intensify due to climate change. This has caused many human casualties and widespread damages, resulting in costly disruptions of vital public services. The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in US$80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a near countrywide power blackout. Likewise, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions last month.

“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Among the concrete results to be achieved by the Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation Project in Belize are:

  • Improved capacity for long-term energy planning, taking into account the impact of climate change;
  • Better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological and hydro-meteorological stations across the country;
  • Enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events, by strengthening the transmission network and reducing the likelihood of service disruptions;
  • Improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan for the power sector;
  • Revitalized communication network of the power company, ensuring better command and control coordination during response and recovery operations.

This four year project is financed by a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and US$3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) company.

Credit: World Bank

USD33 mn to Finance Climate Change Resilient Infrastructure in the Caribbean

Officials from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) have signed an agreement to provide USD33,000,000 towards financing sustainable infrastructure projects in the Caribbean region. At least 50 percent of the funds will be used to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation projects.

The agreement was signed last month at the CDB Headquarters in Barbados, by French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, Eric de la Moussaye, in the presence of CDB Vice-President (Operations), Patricia McKenzie.

Patricia McKenzie, CDB Vice-President, Operations and Eric de la Moussaye, French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, sign the Credit Facility Agreement.

Patricia McKenzie, CDB Vice-President, Operations and Eric de la Moussaye, French Ambassador to the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States and Barbados, sign the Credit Facility Agreement.

Caribbean countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, with our geographical location leading to high exposure to natural hazards. Economic conditions also play a role, as there is a lack of access to long-term resources to finance sustainable climate-related infrastructure projects. We believe that these additional funds will go a long way towards building resilience and mitigating the impact of climate change in our region,” said Mrs. McKenzie.

The funds are being provided by AFD under a Credit Facility Agreement with CDB. AFD is the primary agency through which the Government of France provides funding for sustainable development projects. This marks the first time that CDB has accessed financing from AFD.

The Facility will be used by CDB to augment financing for infrastructure projects in several areas: renewable energy, water and sanitation, waste management, adaptation of infrastructure to the effects of climate change, protection of coasts and rivers. Countries that are eligible to benefit from this facility are: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname. The Facility is also complemented by a EUR3,000,000 technical assistance grant, which will finance feasibility studies for projects eligible for financing under the credit facility.

The agreement supports the improvement of Caribbean economies’ resilience and vitality through the development of sustainable infrastructure projects with significant environmental or climate impacts. It is in alignment with the Bank’s corporate priority of promoting environmental sustainability.

Credit: CDB

Successful Implementation of Bioenergy Course

 

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Belmopan, Belize; August 26, 2016 –

According to Belize policy targets, the country aims at increasing its share of renewable energy. Till now Bioenergy, especially Biogas, is not utilized on industrial scales in Belize. To help achieve this goal and build capacity in this sector, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in cooperation with GIZ REETA had offered a free of charge BIOENERGY Course at its training Centre in the country’s capital, Belmopan and at the Bio Energy Laboratory which is housed at the University of Belize.

BioEnergy Course

Bioenergy as a renewable energy resource offers many advantages: It can be converted into various forms of secondary and final energy. Biomass, the primary energy source, can be transformed into solid, liquid and gaseous energy carriers. The combustion of these energy carriers can produce heat, cold, electricity, mechanical power or a combination of these. Even better than this, bioenergy is storable, so it can be converted right at the time when energy is needed to balance the differences between energy supply and demand.

BioEnergy Course

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Director of the CCCCC and Dr. Ulric Trotz , Deputy Director of the CCCCC both welcomed the participants and thanked GIZ for their contribution. They also thanked Henrik Personn, the integrated expert from CIM/GIZ, for his efforts especially in the Capacity Building and Waste to Energy Sector in Belize. The course was directed by Tobias Sengfelder of GoGreen Ltd.

BioEnergy Course

Participation came from the Belize Solid Waste Management Authority, BELTRAIDE, Belmopan Comprehensive High School, the University of Belize, ITVET and the Spanish Lookout Power Plant.   Participants successfully completed the course and received a certificate that demonstrated their ability to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training seminars and implement bioenergy projects to high standards. These seminars provided an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while ensuring the sustainable use of knowledge.

BioEnergy Course

Alton Daly, an intern at the CCCCC said “The course was very informative. We learned to make use of different biomass resources such as sugar cane and corn. I think it is something we can use throughout the Caribbean and not only here in Belize. It seems to be very useful. It is something we should continue to look into.”

BioEnergy Course

The head of the Belmopan Comprehensive High School Science Department, Jeneva Jones, felt that “It was very informative about how to create electricity from different biomass that is readily available to us. We need to put more people in the science field to ensure that the use of bioenergy becomes viable.”

BioEnergy Course

Ryan Zuniga, a lecturer at the University of Belize also had high hopes after completing the course. He said “Seeing the output of such a system will garner far more support for science and research. It will assist us in developing ways to curb our energy cost and mitigate against climate change. I think it is something that would be very useful at UB and at the lower levels of the education system.”

 

These seminars provided an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while also ensuring the sustainable use of knowledge. Participants who successfully completed the course, in addition to receiving a certificate, are now able to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training and implement bioenergy projects to high standards.

 

BioEnergy Course

 

BioEnergy Course

BioEnergy Course

BioEnergy Course

The successful participants included:

Ryan Zuniga, UB Lecturer

Jeneva Jones, Head of Science Dept., Belmopan Comprehensive High School

Ana Hernandez, Agricultural Science Teacher, Belmopan Comprehensive School

Jorge Chuck, ITVET Manager, Belize City

Gilroy Lewis General Manager, Belize Solid Waste Management Authority

Jomo Myles, Student and Sugar Industry Stakeholder

Jake Letkeman, General Manager, Farmers’ Light Plant Corporation, Spanish Lookout

Shahera Mckoy, Manager, Beltraide

Nicole Zetina, Project Manager, Beltraide

 

Photos of the seminar can be downloaded at the Centre’s Flickr page.

Bioenergy Course

According to Belize’s policy targets, the country intends to increase its share of renewable energy. Bioenergy, especially Biogas, is not being utilized on industrial levels. To help achieve this goal and build capacity in this sector, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in cooperation with GIZ REETA is offering a free of charge BIOENERGY Course at its training Centre in the country’s capital, Belmopan on the 15 – 25 August, 2016.

Participants who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate that demonstrates their ability to plan, prepare and conduct Bioenergy training seminars and implement bioenergy projects to high standards. These seminars provide an excellent opportunity for professional development in the renewable energy field, while ensuring the sustainable use of the knowledge.

The course at the Centre will be held for 15 persons, so early application/registration is vital for participation please send a curriculum vitae (CV) and note explaining why the bioenergy course is significant to your development. Email your CV to Henrik Personn at hpersonn@caribbeanclimate.bz.  Please review the schedule for details.

Peruse the Press Release and the downloadable draft schedules for week 1 and week 2 or see below for more details.

week1-1

week1-1

week1-part 2

week1-part 2

week2-1

week2-1

week2 part 2

week2 part 2

Belize most vulnerable in Central America to sea level rise

Belize most vulnerable in Central America to sea level rise

According to a recent publication, by 2100 Belize’s population is projected to reach 1 million, but at the same time, substantial portions of the country could be under water due to sea level rise, exacerbating demand for natural resources. Global warming is said to be the culprit, and the novel energy financing is intended to help scale back some of its effects.

In March, research published by the Nature journal and featured in the Washington Post indicates that sea levels are rising twice as fast as had been previously estimated, and the projection says that it will rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century.

An online model shows that over time Belize gradually disappears under rising water levels over the centuries, with the last refuge being the Maya Mountain Massif in Central Belize—where the highest lands are located. Belize appears to be one of the most vulnerable Central American countries  to sea level rise.

What-sea-level-rise-would-e

Amandala spoke with Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), a CARICOM agency based in Belize, who explained that most of Central America is much more mountainous than Belize, which has a very flat coastline with much of its land mass in the north and coast being at or slightly below sea level.

As a consequence, sea level rise would impact Belize much more than places like Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

“The entire northern half of Belize and the entire coastal area all the way down to PG would also be under water,” Leslie said, pointing to the not too distant future.

Dr. Leslie told us that currently, the sea is rising about 3 millimeters (mm) per year.

“That might sound very small, but 3 millimeters in a year, in 10 years that’s 30 millimeters,” said Leslie.

He explained that every millimeter rise, translates to a meter of land being submerged. This, he noted, could have implications for places such as airports, as well as infrastructure on the cayes.

“So by the end of this century, you would have quite a bit of rise and coastal areas would be well under water,” said Leslie.

This could have serious implications for the country’s water supply, he said. Inland waters would become more saline. He noted that currently, the national water network feeds from Mile 16 in the Belize River area, but the network would have to find a source point far more inland.

Leslie said that the rate he quoted does not take into account the doubling recently reported in the Washington Post and Nature articles.

By the end of the century, most of Belize City would be under water; and that does not take into account the tides or a storm surge, he added.

“There are other factors that would make the matter much more complicated. All our offshore cayes, all those cayes at best are 3 feet above sea level; if you go up a foot of water, all the infrastructure would be severely impacted, including all the hotels,” he said.

“In terms of municipal airports; that would be under water…” Leslie told us. “Placencia would be under water,” he added.

The problem is that as a country, Belize has no control over sea level and the phenomenon that is driving it. According to the researchers who recently doubled the estimates for sea level rise, the ice caps in Antarctica are melting faster than had been thought due to high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The world took too long to start to address the climate change seriously,” Dr. Leslie said. “The water does not rise uniformly; it rises in some places faster than others.”

“We are in 2016, but in 2025, the water would have come up at least 3 more inches; and by 2050, which is not too far away and assuming the same 3mm rise per year (we are talking another 34 years), that would be affecting almost the whole of Belize City already – even at the current rate – and most of our cayes,” Leslie told us.

Other Caribbean countries, even those that are more mountainous than Belize, are also vulnerable, because of their size and the location of key national assets, such as their airports. In Jamaica, two of their international airports are along the coast. The cost to the economy of countries in our region could be huge, but awareness of the future impacts of climate change and sea level rise on our region could help countries prepare for the changes that lie ahead, such as retrofitting infrastructure.

Leslie indicated that the Green Climate Fund is just coming online and countries have to make sure that they submit proposals for financing efforts to build resilience to climate change.

“The onus is on the countries like Belize to start to understand how to write projects that can be funded under the Green Climate Fund,” Leslie said.

He told us that the Climate Change Centre is the only centre in our region, and one of the few in the world, accredited by the Green Climate Fund as an implementing entity. The Center can access (on behalf of CARICOM countries) monies for projects that can address climate change, in the range of US$10 million to US$50 million.

“The countries have to be proactive. We can submit on their behalf but they have to take the initiative,” he said.

Currently the Centre is working along with Belize on renewable energy projects that would cut cost, Leslie informed.

All CARICOM countries, including Belize, recently signed the Paris Agreement at the special ceremony held in the US in April. The agreement is aimed at checking global warming and consequently containing sea level rise; but there are doubts as to whether the target set in the agreement can be met.

When CARICOM leaders met in Belize this February, James Fletcher, chairman of both the CARICOM Task Force of Sustainable Development and the Regional Coordinating Committee on Climate Change, told our newspaper that, “There is a point to which the money can’t help, so if you’re going to have a climate that by the end of the century would have warmed up by 4 degrees Celsius, I don’t know that there is any amount of money that you can give to a country like the Maldives… or maybe some other island in the Bahamas, because these islands will disappear.”

Fletcher said that while countries have committed to “intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs),” the aggregate effect, even with those in place, suggests a 2.7 degree rise in temperature by end of the century.

“That’s not good enough [because] for SIDs [small island developing states], anything above 1.5 will be catastrophic…” he said. “Anything above that… becomes a vicious cycle that we can’t win.”

Dr. Leslie notes that the Paris Agreement only kicks in after a minimum number of countries ratify it—and those countries must include key ones such as the USA and China.

Back in Belize, where the country’s vulnerability to climate change and sea level rise is little understood, there is also the need to address the problem of deforestation, which could exacerbate the situation on the ground.

According to Jaume Ruscalleda, Sustainable Land Use Officer at Ya’axché Conservation Trust, since Independence, Belize’s forest cover has declined from 74% to 60%, and by the end of the century, the country will only have 26% forest cover, mostly in the Maya Mountain range—which, we note, is incidentally the last refuge from sea level rise.

Belize's dwindling forest cover

Ruscalleda cited maps shared by Emil Cherrington, a Belizean who does remote monitoring of Belize’s forest cover and by the University of Belize, which also documents the disappearance of the country’s forest cover.

Dr. Leslie urges “proper land use planning,” adding that this should have been done with or without climate change.

“It comes back to the border problem. There are a lot of the prime areas which have been designated by our country which are not to be used for clearing and agriculture, but [Guatemalans] are coming across the border and doing just that. This should be addressed,” Leslie urged.

Credit: Amandala
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