Belize continues to work toward greater climate resilience

Belize continues to work toward greater climate resilience

The Ministry of Blue Economy and the UN body, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), held the last of four consultations this morning. The topic? Climate change vulnerability and livelihoods. The idea of the meetings was to bring together the various stakeholders of Belize’s coastal zones and fisheries sectors to examine the risks and threats associated with climate change. Reporter Vejea Alvarez was there and has more.

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The Government of Belize and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) are working with communities and stakeholders in the fisheries sector to combat climate change. The initiative is dubbed “Enhancing adaptation planning and increasing climate resilience in the coastal zone and fisheries sector of Belize”. The readiness project collected scientific data that was used to complete a detailed vulnerability and livelihood assessment for Belize City, Dangriga Town, and San Pedro Town. Assessment Consultant Dr. Asha Singh, who headed the study, explained that based on the findings all of the communities are currently being affected by climate change.  

Dr.Asha Singh, Assessment Consultant: “Overwhelmingly yes climate change is affecting Belize. Climate change is affecting Belize City, climate change is affecting Dangriga Town. I cannot say much about San Pedro because the data that I would require for rainfall etc there isn’t a data station but if we can speculate based on the information for these two cities yes San Pedro is being affected by climate change so that’s one of the major foundations to the study – that we are being affected.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The assessment examined at how the fisheries sectors in these various communities, which supports 575 fishers, are being affected due to rising sea levels and warmer waters. Director of the Blue Economy, Maxine Monsanto, explained that data collected from the project will be used to shape policies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change. 

Maxine Monsanto, Director of the Blue Economy: “The intention of all the data that’s being gathered and the information that’s being gathered especially as it relates to the impacts of climate change on coastal zones and fisheries and vulnerable groups specifically women, indigenous communities, youth,  it’s to help prepare future projects and future plans. So it’s very important in that they’re all different pieces of a puzzle that we’ll connect together in providing guidance for national direction for building resilience, building adaptation within the fisheries sector and within coastal communities to climate change.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  According to the data, collected between the period of 1991 to 2020, Belize’s fast-developing coastal zones are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change with Belize City being the most at risk community.  

Dr.Asha Singh, Assessment Consultant: For the coastal sector as all of you know that Belize City is below sea level at any good time, climate change is bringing that added burden and why is it an added burden? Because you have the coastal area that is very highly developed, it is the economic hub of Belize and you have rising sea level, erosion and many other activities that actually are causing their own burden on the infrastructure so it makes Belize City extremely vulnerable as well. Not to take away from anything of the other communities because they’re all vulnerable but if we are there to rank in terms of economic vulnerability I would say that Belize City is very vulnerable to climate change.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  And, while coastal communities are more susceptible to flooding and erosion, climate change is also a threat to farmers and those involved in agriculture.  National Correspondent for FOA in Belize, Armando Aban explained that the study is also aimed at ensuring the livelihoods of persons in rural communities are protected.  

Armando Aban, National Correspondent for FOA in Belize:The new interventions of FAO worldwide is healthy diets. After the crisis we see a lot of families, rural areas within poverty and the power of purchasing agricultural produce and even fisheries or forestry services and products is quite challenging due to the fact that whenever there is necessity of surviving then livelihoods pose a challenge because a family or farmer will only a purchase on the areas of what can be within the budget and that directly involves thinking about the nutrition aspect.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News:  Dr. Singh added that while the effects of climate change may not be seen overnight if action is not taken those effects may be disastrous in the future.  

Dr.Asha Singh, Assessment Consultant: “Climate change is like a slow event. It’s a slow onset event so if we are looking for these big events we look at it from for example the storms the tropical storms. Overwhelmingly the data is telling us about the increase of tropical storms and hurricanes due to climate change it’s a contributing factor. So while you may not wake up today and find that the climate has changed completely what you’re saying is certainly nuances that make life unbearable and persons already start talking about the very hot days. You know we have to talk about our elderly population how is it that they are dealing with it. We are seeing sargassum those issues you know that is there that is climate change is ever so present.” 

Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The hope is that at the end of this process, climate change policies will be meaningful towards the country’s national development goals. Vejea Alvarez, Love News. 

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