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Deputy Secretary General of CARICOM Visits CCCCC

Ambassador Manorma P. Soeknandan, PhD., Deputy Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), is in Belize for a three day working visit. Ambassador Soeknandan is meeting with officials of the Government of Belize, as well as representatives of the various CARICOM institutions headquartered in Belize.

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC; Ambassador Manorma P. Soeknandan, PhD., Deputy Secretary General of (CARICOM);  and Craig Beresford, Director of Strategic Management at the CARICOM Secretariat.

On Tuesday May 24th, 2016, Dr. Soeknandan accompanied by Craig Beresford, Director of Strategic Management at the CARICOM Secretariat, visited the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) which is headquartered in Belmopan, the Capital of Belize. She met with the staff and the Executive Director, Dr. Kenrick Leslie. Dr. Leslie outlined the progression of the institution to a Centre of Excellence and as the first regional entity, accredited to the Green Climate Fund which will invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development projects in the Caribbean. Soeknandan spoke about the importance of collaboration and a partnership was further strengthened as the CCCCC agreed to share its human resources in regards to highlighting best financial and procurement practices which serve to help adaptation and mitigation projects in the region.

Ambassador Soeknandan told the staff of the 5C’s, “I would like to say on behalf of the CARICOM Secretariat thank you for your input and your support to the organization and the region.”

Bonn Climate Change Talks Launched

 

Ségolène Royal © Photo Archives Xavier Léoty

H.E. Ms. Ségolène Royal, Minister of Environment, Energy and the Sea of France and President of COP 21/CMP 11 opened the climate change talks in Bonn on Monday May 16th, 2016. That morning was the first occasion for the climate change negotiators to meet following the successful climate change talks in Paris last year which resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Last month 175 countries signed the Agreement at the UN Headquarters in New York, eclipsing the previous record for the signing an agreement on the opening day. In addition 5 CARICOM Member States were among the 15 States which also presented their instruments of ratification. The Paris Agreement will come into force when 55 Parties representing 55% of the global greenhouse gas emissions ratify the Agreement.

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer (CCCCC) and Chairman of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Photo courtesy Ann Gordon

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer (CCCCC) and Chairman of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Photo courtesy Ann Gordon

Two of the subsidiary bodies of the Climate Change Convention, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) also launched their work . The SBSTA is being chaired by Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). These bodies will elaborate the mechanisms established in the Agreement. The Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) is expected to launch its work tomorrow. It is charged to prepare for the entry into force of th Agreement and prepare for the first meeting its governing body.

Pre-sessional Meetings Being Held Prior to Bonn Climate Change Talks

Bonn Climate Change Conference  Photo Credit: (UNFCCC)

Bonn Climate Change Conference
Photo Credit: (UNFCCC)

 

Major groups of countries are engaged in preparatory talks among themselves prior to the opening of the Meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on Monday, May 16. These groups include the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Group of 77 (G77) and China. The Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are Members of these two groups. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre is being represented at the meetings by Carlos Fuller, the International and Regional Liaison Officer who is the Chairman of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA). Mr. Fuller has met with several of the negotiating groups over the past three days to advise them on how he proposes to conduct the SBSTA session. These include the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), the African Group, AOSIS, and the Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDCs). He also met with the Chairman of the G77. On Saturday, May 14th, he met with Members of the Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) and the Arab States. The pre-sessional meetings will continued on Sunday.

CCCCC, UK-DFID, GOB and Ya’Axche deliver climate resilient crops within a Reserve

CCCCC Partners in UKDFID sponsored Project include Government of Belize and Ya’Axche Conservation Trust

CCCCC Partners in UKDFID sponsored Project include Government of Belize and Ya’Axche Conservation Trust

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In plain view of the mountainous terrain of Belize’s most southern district, Toledo, farmers of Trio Village have been facing a changing environment. Ya’Axche Conservation Trust approached the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to assist the villagers with combating threats that were exacerbated by climate related events. This involved deforestation due to lack of water, insufficient arable land and forest fires which threatened crops. The main initiative involved attaining land, donating cacao seedlings and providing technical assistance and training for climate resilient crops.

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The Head of the Project Development & Management Unit at the CCCCC explained why the Centre became involved in the initiative. According to Dr. Mark Bynoe, “It’s not a case that these issues are new, it’s a case where these issues are likely to be exacerbated with a change in climate regime. So with that focus, we looked at projects within the Centre that we had and which could finance this particular initiative.  We were able to find $250,000 US under the UK-DFID programme. So for the last two years we were able to fund this initiative in Trio Village.”

The partnership of UK-DFID, CCCCC and Ya’Axche came to fruition when the Forest Department granted a unique concession to allow agro-forestry within the Maya Mountain Forest Reserve. The implementation of this community forest concession resulted in 936 acres being leased to the project.  The acres have been divided into sub plots for organic cacao farming and the concession includes an annual crop section for vegetables, plantain and honey harvesting.

Isabel Rash

Isabel Rash, Farmer, Trio Farmers Cacao Association

The project, completed at the end of April 2016, is having an impact on the lives of farmers like Isabel Rash. Rash admits the gruelling task is benefiting his future. While in the company of his family in Trio Village, Rash said “For the first six months we prepared our nursery with 28 to 30,000 cacao saplings. We eventually planted 250 plants per acre. It’s hard but we are doing it because in the future we don’t want to work for somebody else.”

“We want to work for ourselves. From there, when we start to produce more, my thoughts are that I can maybe just be a boss and have workers beside me…It’s five of us in my family. It’s my wife, my 14-year and 2- year old sons and me. I’m taking care of a little girl from my sister-in-law and my aim is to give them an education. That’s why I’m working hard. I want them to be different in the future.”

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There is also gender considerations as 10 females are members of the Trio Farmers Cacao Association. The women have agro-forestry plots for planting cacao and a few of them are also involved in bee-keeping to harvest honey. 15 year old Cordelia Cabnal’s formal education ended after she completed primary school.

Cordelia Cabnal

Cordelia Cabnal, Bee Keeper, Trio Farmers Cacao Association

Cabnal says, “The first time I harvested about 25 pounds and the second harvest is about 35 pounds. I am happy because I see that honey is good and now I have three hives. I want more boxes. I want to have more hives. To me it’s good because here it’s money. That’s what Mr. Sho says and he told us not to give up because this is money.”

Cordelia Cabnal

Isodoro Sho, who trained the group in bee keeping, believes that, “In the future they will be the one showing the village people. The ladies that got involved will realize this is not only about cacao or pineapple but about saving a part of the rainforest.”

Christina Garcia

Christina Garcia,  Executive Director of the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust

In response to how the Trio farmers plan to proceed following the closure of the project, the Executive Director of the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust, Christina Garcia says the members have been waiting for access to land for some years now. And now that they have it, Ya’Axche has observed full commitment from the farmers. Garcia noted, “It’s a direct result of the project. We’ve seen progress still happening after the closure of the project. Farmers are still planting their cacao and doing their under-brushing on their own. They’ve learned a lot from the training they received during the implementation of the project.”

The farmers, according to Isabel Rash, are learning new methods. Rash says, “We need to change because when we farmed from years past, we used pesticides and we burned. We can kill our own-selves smelling that pesticide and smoke. When we fall (trees) close to the river the river/creek, it gets dry.”

As annual crops such as bananas, beans, and plantains are being harvested, cacao planting could be increased by 25,000 to ensure farmers have a sustainable income.  The Project directly impacts no less than 200 individuals that are part of the farming families.

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Shade houses for alternative crops

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Dr. Mark Bynoe and Isabel Rash

According to Dr. Bynoe, “We had to construct shade houses for protected agriculture. Why is this necessary? The whole concept of agriculture in that area is to have crops at varied periods of time. So the need for the shade houses is to pursue some cash crops farming in the immediate future. Revenue will be generated and the farmers will begin to see some returns as annual crops are maturing such as bananas, beans, plantains and so forth. And further down the road is the cacao plant. We have planted 25,000 cacao seedlings and we’re hoping to increase that to about 50,000 going forward, so we have a sustainable income to start with and farmers are less prone to deforest areas. It helps with soil protection. It helps with the integrity of aquifers and rivers, vital for the very crops they are cultivating. In total, we are looking at an entire system approach from the time they started farming to the time we withdraw. So that at the end of the day we are participating in poverty alleviation.”

Dr. Bynoe is very hopeful as he points out, “This is a pilot for the Centre but we are engaged in a number of adaptation initiatives. If this turns out to be a success story, if this translated into other areas of Belize, we can take it to other parts of the Caribbean.  We do expect with the cooperation we have seen from the Ya’Axche Conservation Trust, the efforts from the farmers themselves, the support from Government, the Ministry of Agriculture who is providing extension services, the Ministry of Forestry who made the concession available, that we are indeed moving in the right direction.”

Images of the project: Trio Farmers Cacao Growers Photo Album

CCCCC Represented at Bonn Climate Change Talks

Bonn Climate Change Conference Photo Credit: (UNFCCC)

Bonn Climate Change Conference
Photo Credit: (UNFCCC)

 

Mr Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer, is representing the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) at the meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Bonn, Germany from 16 to 26 May 2016.

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer (CCCCC)

Carlos Fuller, International and Regional Liaison Officer (CCCCC)

 

Mr. Fuller was elected as the Chairman of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) held in Paris, France this past December. He will hold the post for one year. The other two subsidiary bodies which will be meeting in Bonn are the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA). On Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 Mr. Fuller met with the delegations representing the Least Developed Countries (LDC) to brief them on how he proposed to conduct the work of the SBSTA at the session. He will provide similar briefings to the other negotiating groups on Friday, Saturday and Sunday prior to the opening of the negotiating sessions on Monday.

 

Do you know your NDA? The CCCCC is GCF Ready

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The Green Climate Fund (GCF) aims to multiply current actions and responses to climate change while deploying unprecedented levels of funding to invest in low-emission and climate-resilient development in the battle to save our Earth.  The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) was accredited as a regional implementing entity by to this key multilateral financing mechanism to support climate action in developing countries on July 09, 2015.

 

The Executive Director of the CCCCC, Dr. Kenrick Leslie says “It speaks to the high calibre of work being done in the region and the strength of our internal systems. We will now move forward with a set of ambitious and bankable projects that we have been developing under a directive from CARICOM Heads”.

The first GCF “Readiness Week” was  held from April 25 to 29th, 2016 to assist direct access entities in developing their project ideas. The event brought together the centre and 12 other accredited direct access entities and 27 developing countries to share project concepts and project proposals with each other.  Caribbean Countries represented at the session included Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and Guyana.

The CCCCC was represented by Sharon Lindo, International & Regional Policy Advisor and Dr. Mark Bynoe, Senior Economist and the Head of Project Development Management Unit.

Dr. Mark Bynoe, Senior Economist and Head of the Project Development and management Unit, CCCCC

Dr. Mark Bynoe, Senior Economist and Head of the Project Development and management Unit, CCCCC

According to Dr. Bynoe “The recent workshop demonstrates the Green Climate Fund’s aspirations to fulfill its fit-for-purpose mantra. The workshop clearly demonstrates that the institution and its Board have been listening to the issues raised by Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and is seeking to address these through its Enhanced Direct Access approach. This is a step in the right direction and one should be applauded and encouraged.”

Sharon Lindo, International & Regional Policy Advisor, CCCCC

Sharon Lindo, International & Regional Policy Advisor, CCCCC

At the close of the session, GCF’s Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou reiterated to participants that “GCF’s role is to provide you with the necessary support so that you can lead transformative changes in your countries and regions…You are a trusted GCF partner, and the Fund can only be successful if you deliver on bringing about significant projects or programmes.”

Looking forward from the Sodongo Readiness session, GCF Regional Advisers will schedule calls with focal points to check on work programmes and also to organize group webinars to bring entities together for briefings on specific issues.

As the first regionally accredited organization, the CCCCC is now the interface and conduit for GCF funding to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean. Applications for GCF funding takes place in consultation with country focal points (NDAs) and the CCCCC. 

For further information on GCF Funding, please contact your National Designated Authority listed below or the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre at http://www.caribbeanclimate.bz/ .

Antigua and Barbuda  

Environment Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands
Housing and the Environment
Her Excellency Ambassador Diann Black‐Layne
Environment Division
Chief Environment Officer and Ambassador for Climate Change
Botanical Gardens, Factory
Rd., St. John’s, Antigua
Tel.: +1 268 464 6410
E‐mail: dcblack11@gmail.com

Bahamas

The Ministry of the Environment Housing
Ms. Camille Johnson
Permanent Secretary
P.O. Box N 4849, Nassau, N.P. The Bahamas
Tel.: +242 322 6005; +242 322 6006
E‐mail: kenreddorsett@bahamas.gov.bs
E‐mail: camillejohnson@bahamas.gov.bs

Barbados

Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs
Dr. Louis Woodroffe
Permanent Secretary, Economic Affairs
Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados
Tel.: +1 246 310 1302
Fax: +1 246 425 1100
E‐mail: Louis.woodroffe@barbados.gov.bb

Belize

Ministry of Finance and Economic Development 
Her Excellency Sharman Yvonne Hyde 
Chief Executive Officer
Ground Floor, Right Wing,
Sir Edney Cain Building
Belmopan City, Cayo District, Belize, Central America 
Tel.: +501 822 2626; +501 822 2527; +501 822 1495
E‐mail: ceo@med.gov.bz

Dominica

Ministry of Finance
Mr. Samuel Carrette
Chief Development Planner
5th Floor, Financial Centre
Kennedy Avenue, Roseau, Commonwealth of Dominica 
Tel.: +1 767 266 3221; +1 767 266 3561
Fax: +1 767 448 0054
E‐mail: carrettes@dominica.gov.dm
E‐mail: finsecfinance@gominica.gov.dm

Grenada

Ministry of Economic Development, Planning, Trade,
Cooperatives and International Business 
Mr. Timothy Antoine 
Permanent Secretary
Financial Complex, Carenage, St. George’s, Grenada
Tel.: +1 473 440 2928; +1 473 440 2731; +1 473 440 2732
Fax: +1 473 440 4115
E‐mail: psfinancegrenada@gmail.com

Guyana

Ministry of the Presidency
His Excellency Mr. Joseph Harmon, M.P. 
Minister of State
Vlissengen Road, Bourda, Georgetown
Co‐operative Republic of Guyana 
Tel.: +592 225 0582
E‐mail: ministerofstategy@gmail.com
E‐mail: presidentialadvisorenvirongy@gmail.com

Haiti

Ministry of Environment
Mr. Moise Jean‐Pierre
# 11 Rue , Pacot, Port‐au‐Prince, Haiti
Tel.: +509 3701 2694
E‐mail: Moisejp8@hotmail.com

Jamaica

Ministry of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change
Mr. Albert Daley
Principal Director, Climate Change Division
16A Half Way Tree Road, Kingston 5, Jamaica
Tel.: +876 906 0724; +876 633 7351; +876 633 7354
E‐mail: Albert.daley@mwlecc.gov.jm

Saint Lucia

Ministry of Finance,
Economic Affairs and Social
Dr. Reginald Darius
Permanent Secretary
Castries, Saint Lucia
Tel.: +1 758 468 5503; +1 758 285 0200
Fax: +1 768 452 6700
E‐mail: reginald.darius@govt.lc

Saint Kitts and Nevis 

Department of Physical Planning and Environment 
Ms. June Hughes
Senior Environment Officer
Bladen Commercial Development 
Wellington Road
Basseterre, St. Kitts
Tel.: +1 869 465 2277
Fax: +1 869 465 5842
E‐mail: ccodoe@sisterisles.kn

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning 
Ms. Laura Anthony‐Browne
Director of Planning
Administrative Centre, Bay Street, Kingstown
Sait Vincent and the Grenadines 
Tel.: +1 784 457 1746
E‐mail: cenplan@vincysurf.com

Suriname

Ministry of Finance
His Excellency
Mr. Gillmore Hoefdraad
Minister
Tamarindelaan 3
Tel. (597) 472610
E‐mail: ghoefdraad@finance.gov.sr
E‐mail: secmin@finance.gov.sr

World Water Day and Earth Hour Celebrated in Belize

 

World Water Day is a day of international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and to take action to make a difference.

World Water Day dates back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio, Brazil where it was recommended to designate an international observance for water.  The United Nations Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Each year, UN-Water – the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation – sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or upcoming challenge.  The engagement campaign is led by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.  On World Water Day, countries and tens of thousands of individuals and organizations get involved in several ways.  They get informed, engaged and act.  Together they make a difference – especially for the most vulnerable people on our planet but also for future generations.

2016’s theme is “Water and Jobs” – better water, better jobs. This year’s theme was coordinated on behalf of UN-Water by the International Labor Organization which is the entity that promotes rights at work, encourages decent employment opportunities, enhances social protection and strengthens dialogue on work-related issues. This year’s theme highlights how both water and jobs have the power to transform lives: water is central to human survival, the environment and the economy and decent work can provide income and pave the way for broader social and economic advancements.

In Belize, a ‘Water and Jobs’ summit was held in Belmopan and Belize City on March 15 and 16, where the importance of water was discussed by Ministry officials, the Hydrology Unit and the National Climate Change Office. The event also highlighted the winners of the National World Water Day poetry competition. First place was won by Jahseed X Avila. There were several NGO’s that had presentations, informational booths and games for the students who attended the session in Belize City. The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) assisted with the judging of the poetry competition. Entries came from across the country with notable poems about communities whose residents are dependent on fishing for their livelihood. The winners hailed from Corozal, Orange Walk, Independence Village and Belize City.

Second place  was won by Suleima Pat for her poem “Water and Jobs ” which focused on drought.

“then I see a man standing on his fields.

The crops are dried; his wells are empty, and his children cry with thirst…

The seconds tick away. Tick tock tick tock …

Tears start oozing down my face.”

The week long activities included the observation of Earth Hour 2016. In several locations across the country, lights were turned off, candles lit and artists sang and conservationists gave speeches about how to carry out individual actions to to affect climate change. The CCCCC was also represented at this event which is a way to bring attention to energy consumption, sustainability, and climate-change issues.

Earth Hour in Belize City

Earth Hour in Belize City

Earth Hour in Belize City

Earth Hour in Belize City

Credit: UN-Water.org

CCCCC delivers Photovoltaic System in Barbados

 

In late December 2015, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) handed over the photovoltaic system at the Carlton pumping Station to the people of Barbados.

Dr. John Mwansa, General Manager for the Barbados Water Authority said “We are very thankful to the 5C’s and the European Union; the E.U. for providing the finances and the 5Cs for choosing us.”

The Salt Water Reverse Osmosis plant provides water for residents of the east coast of Barbados. The project was part of the adaptation and mitigation measures against climate change.  The Carlton Power switching project has been funded by the 5C’s through the EU-Global Climate Change Alliance (EU-GCCA) program which implements projects in CARIFORUM member states. Support for the Carlton Plant was approved at $470,000 US dollars. The Government of Barbados also constructed the foundation and the security fence around the system at a cost of $150,000. The partnership of the EU, 5Cs and the Government of Barbados has resulted in a immediate reduction in the operation costs at the Carlton Power Plant.
The Project Manager, Joseph Mcgann commented that in addition to a substantial reduction in the fuel bill, “it provides for a reduction in the greenhouse gas emission of Barbados which is in line with its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”

The ceremony was attended by Dr. Leanord Nurse, Chairman board of Governors, CCCCC; Jannik Vaa, EU Rep for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; Joseph Mcgann, Project Manager, CCCCC and Dr. Atlee Brathwaite, Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority.

The first CARICOM Biogas Laboratory

CARICOM Biogas Laboratory

CARICOM Biogas Laboratory

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) coordinates the Caribbean region’s response to climate change, working on effective solutions and projects to combat the environmental impacts of climate change and global warming.

In its efforts, the CCCCC has been granted the support within the GIZ – REETA program to introduce a mobile biogas Laboratory at the University of Belize (UB) for use within CARICOM Members states and also by the private sector. The vision of the project meant that the CCCCC would purchase a facility to convert biomass into biogas by using locally supplied feedstock, consisting mostly of easy to harvest biomass, manure and organic waste.IMG_7833

The laboratory was recently delivered to Belize and after final installation of the lab, the opening ceremony was held on November 27, 2015. In the speeches delivered at the ceremony, the speakers highlighted the importance of promoting science for students. Well deserved recognition  was given to the CCCCC and GIZ REETA, which  supplied the Biogas Laboratory to UB.  The University was recognized for being a strong partner with the best capacity in Belize to utilize the Laboratory. UB committed to integrate the laboratory in its curriculum to ensure ‘the students of today could use the technology tomorrow.’ Dr. Andreas Täuber also mentioned that in the future, support by GIZ for UB might be on the agenda to support the implementation of a Renewable Energy Study programme.

Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC

Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC

At the Biogas Laboratory opening ceremony, the ribbon was cut by: Dr. Andreas Täuber, Head of GIZ REETA; Dr. Wilma Wright, Provost, UB; Dr. Pio Saqui, UB FST Dept.; Dr. Kennrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC; and Henrik Personn,  Renewable Energy Expert  – Biogas Laboratory PM, CCCCC.

biogas produced by the laboratory inside plastic bag

biogas produced by the laboratory inside plastic bag

TNO Consultants, Henk Trap and Dr. Johan Van Groenestijn displayed biogas produced by the laboratory to visitors. Dr. Leslie highlighted the importance of the laboratory and applauded the efforts of the stakeholders to to make the best use of it in Belize.

Government of Belize Bans Offshore Exploration in and around all Seven World Heritage Sites

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System © Tony Rath / Tony Rath

Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System © Tony Rath / Tony Rath

In 1996 the Belize Barrier Reef was designated as World Heritage Site. However, concessions for offshore exploration and navigational errors that cause grounding on the reef had resulted in it being added UNESCO’s (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) list of World Heritage Sites in danger in 2009.
But earlier this week, the Government of Belize has approved a policy that will legally apply a ban on offshore exploration in areas along the Belize Barrier Reef System, and within the seven (7) World Heritage Sites in Belize. During a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, the ministers agreed to specifically ban offshore exploration in all 7 World Heritage Sites:

Middle Caye, Glovers Reef Marine Reserve Photo Credit: Jose A. Sanchez

Middle Caye, Glovers Reef Marine Reserve
Photo Credit: Jose A. Sanchez

  1. Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve and National Park
  2. Caye Caulker Marine Reserve and National Park
  3.  Lighthouse Reef Natural Monument
  4.  South Water Caye Marine Reserve
  5. Laughing Bird Caye National Park
  6. Glovers Reef Marine Reserve
  7. Sapodilla Caye Marine Reserve

This effectively results in a total of 448 square miles being banned. In addition, Cabinet agreed to a ban offshore exploration within one kilometer on either side of the Belizean Barrier Reef System, resulting in an additional 868 square miles falling under the offshore exploration ban. The total area covered by the ban is 842,714 acres or 1,316 square miles.

Former programme Specialist, Special Projects Unit at UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Former programme Specialist, Special Projects Unit at UNESCO World Heritage Centre

Former programme Specialist, Special Projects Unit at UNESCO World Heritage Centre Marc Patry told the Communications Specialist at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) “I was very happy to read that the Government of Belize has decided to ban all oil exploration activities within the World Heritage site, and even extending out 1km beyond the boundaries. This is a testament to the strength of the World Heritage Convention.”

Patry who is currently the principal consultant for World Heritage Solutions also says “It’s worth noting that major mining and oil companies are ahead of game on this one – having officially recognized World Heritage sites as “no-go” areas. It surprises me when the private sector is more visionary than some governments on conservation matters! Still, I applaud the tireless efforts of Belizeans who I know have been making a lot of noise over this issue and congratulate the government of Belize for doing something for which Belizeans a hundred years from now will thank them for.”

Cabinet further agreed that areas that fall outside of the large acreages banned, would not automatically allow for seismic activities and exploration drilling without conducting the existing stringent environmental studies to determine critical habitats and sensitive zones. The required environmental studies would then further give guidance to areas outside the ban, to scientifically determine the type and nature of exploration that can occur in these explorable areas. This decision by the Cabinet demonstrates the government’s resolve in ensuring the continued protection of Belize’s Barrier Reef System and its seven World Heritage Sites.

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