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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.

5Cs Wins Energy Globe Award for Renewable Energy and Potable Water Project in Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines

St.Vincent_and_theGrenadines_banner2015

SVG Certificate

The Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) received the 2015 Energy Globe Award for its renewable energy and potable water work in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Energy Globe, an internationally recognized trademark for sustainability, is one of the most important environmental prizes today with 177 participating countries. The award, which is made from a cross-section of over 1, 500 entries annually, is given in recognition of outstanding performance in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energy and resource conservation.

The CCCCC won the 2015 Energy Globe National Award for the project “Special Programme for Adaptation to Climate Change”. The project was executed on the island of Bequia in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and focuses on the production and provision of clean drinking water for more than 1,000 people. This is being done through the acquisition and installation of a reverse osmosis desalination plant. The project is deemed highly sustainable as the water input is inexhaustible sea water and the energy used is solar, a renewable, carbon-free source.

 Learn more about the project!

The landmark project was also presented by Energy Globe as part of a global online campaign (www.energyglobe.info) on World Environment Day. The campaign ran under the patronage of UNESCO and in cooperation with UNEP and received significant recognition.

“To be honoured with this award is a great recognition of our work for a better environment and motivates us to continue our endeavours in the future,” – Henrik Personn, Renewable Energy Expert, CCCCC

Since completing this key project, we have applied the lessons learned in Belize and on the Grenadian islands of Petite Martinique and Carriacou. Review the poster below to learn more about the progress we are making in Grenada:

Credit: CCCCC

Do you have an excellent project? Submit it for the Energy Globe Award 2016. Review the details on www.energyglobe.info.

Caribbean focuses on youth unemployment

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Gladstone.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) said on Wednesday that the 9th Meeting of Caribbean Labor Ministers has concluded with a commitment to strengthen social dialogue further both at the national and regional levels.

The ILO also said the meeting in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital, ended with renewed impetus to focus on creative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and the greening of the economy.

The meeting, themed “Decent Work for Sustainable Development,” was attended by 21 delegations headed by 14 ministers with responsibility for labor issues.

The presidents and other representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labor (CCL) and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) were also present, along with representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and U.N. Agencies (ECLAC, UNESCO,PAHO/WHO and U.N. RC Office Jamaica), as well as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, attended the meeting and held bilateral meetings with chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Prime Minister of Bahamas Perry Christie; and the Governor-General of the Bahamas, Dame Marguerite Pindling.

The ILO said Caribbean Labour Ministers at the Meeting called for the systemic institutionalization of national social dialogue processes and culture, which embrace policy areas.

They agreed to support the capacity of social partners to ensure that their interventions to tripartite forums and consultations will add substantive value to the processes, the ILO said.

Given the impact of climate change on the world of work, the ministers called for long-term policy development, so that countries are sufficiently resilient to meet the related challenges.

It was agreed that new business opportunities, as well as education and skills-training policies, would be implemented in response to the anticipated impact of climate on the workers, the ILO said.

The ministers called for closer collaboration between the ILO and CARICOM, particularly on youth employment, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), labor market information systems and environmental sustainability.

The ministers said that those countries not-yet signatory to the regional “Free of Child Labor” initiative, should be provided with information to consider becoming a party to it, according to the ILO.

It said that it officially informed the Ministers of Labor about a new regional project with CEC and CCL, with funding from the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening the capacity of workers’ and employers’ organizations in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement.

Delegates examined the state of youth unemployment in the Caribbean region, together with public and private partners and institutions such as the government of the Republic of China, Canada, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and the ACS.

In this session, it was proposed that anticipating skills requirements could contribute to reduce skills mismatches, the ILO said.

It was also suggested that colleges and training institutions work closely with social partners in developing work-based learning opportunities, beyond apprenticeships and internship programs and closer to labor market demand.

The ILO said session highlighted the need for strong corporate social responsibilities to link youth to the world of work.

Regional certification to ensure consistency of qualifications and opportunities for free movement of youth, by developing fair and sound immigration policies, were also discussed.

Ryder emphasized the importance of reducing carbon emissions for sustainable economic growth, generating new jobs and skills.

With sessions led by representatives from CCCCC in Belize, and the ILO Green Jobs Program in Geneva, climate change and its impact on the work place was discussed.

With higher temperatures, rises in sea level, and increased hurricane intensity threatening lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region, the need for increased technical and financial support for the development of renewable energy in the Caribbean was raised, the ILO said.

Ryder said that the Caribbean has strong traditions of tripartite social dialogue, and mentioned the good practices and innovative solutions which the Caribbean countries are able to implement and share.

Credit: Caribbean Life News

Several Caribbean Small Island States to Create Biosphere Reserves

Country Representatives

Country Representatives

Several Caribbean nations committed to  a three-year action plan that aims to create at least one biosphere reserve in each island at the UNESCO Inter-Ministerial Conference on “Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean Small Island States – Tools for sustainable development and growth” in St. Kitts and Nevis on March 27.

At the conference organised by the  Government of St. Kitts and Nevis and the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Curacao, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Maarten, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago  signed the declaration that will allow them to use the reserves as tools for innovative projects to add value to local socio-economic activities.

Of the 610 biosphere reserves worldwide (117 countries), only four are in the Caribbean: St Kitts, Haiti, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Read the full declaration here and the St Kitts Action Plan

**Sources: UNESCO and Jamaican Observer
Learn more about how we’re working to make the Caribbean more climate resilient by perusing The Implementation Plan for “Delivering transformational change 2011-21″.
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