Belize Gets Big Support in Cooling the Effects of Climate Change
An ambitious US$ 30 million World Bank project will help make a difference!
Here at Chaa Creek there’s no debate about climate change. Those doubting that climate change exists as a growing threat to the health of our planet and the seven billion souls inhabiting it will find their arguments falling on deaf ears around here.
We’re just too close to nature to ignore the fact that the earth is heating up, water levels are rising, and storms are increasing in intensity and frequency.
But doom and gloom has never been a Belizean trait, and we take heart in the many measures being put in place to counter this growing threat. All around us we see people taking part in the worldwide effort to turn climate change around and mitigate its effects.
Thinking globally while acting locally is not just a buzz word in Belize as we see practical international initiatives being put in place here.
Which brings us to the recent announcement from Washington DC that The World Bank has approved a US$ 30 million project aimed at helping Belize manage climate risks with more resilient roads and other infrastructure improvements.
Yes folks, that’s $30 million.
Yvonne Hyde, CEO of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development said that, “This project will enable Belize to implement mitigation and adaptation strategies in the war against this global threat as it relates to the negative effects on Belize’s economic growth and welfare of its present and future generations.”
OK, we’re all ears. How will it work?
The funding will go towards a climate resilient infrastructure project, which will involve:
- Rehabilitating 30 km of roads and training 100 people on road maintenance;
- improving 12 bridges and culverts;
- implementing a National Land Use Policy and developing 26 localized hazard maps, and
- training government staff in new flood tracking methods
Sounds ambitious, but eminently practical and very doable.
It is also very timely. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change identified Belize, with more than half of her population and business centres at sea level, as one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to the long term adverse impacts of climate change.
Remember Hurricane Hattie? The UN Convention reports do, and projects such as this one will help ensure Belize is never caught unprepared or unable to adequately respond to severe weather events.
Of course, prevention is always better than a cure, especially when lives are at stake, so this particular project comes as welcome news.
Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, agrees. “Belize is particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards. This project is an important contribution to address the impacts of climate change on the country’s social and economic development as part of the National Climate Resilient investment plan,” she said.
“With the upcoming UN Conference on Small Islands Developing States in Samoa next week, this is also an opportunity to draw attention to the efforts needed to boost the resilience of Caribbean states that are particularly hit by rising sea level, flooding, hurricanes, and other disasters,” she added.
The five year project is financed from an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan of US$30 million to the Government of Belize, with a final maturity of 40 years, and an additional five year grace period.
Money well spent, we reckon. What value can you place on human lives or the economic survival of a nation?
Belize brings so much joy and a chance to reconnect with nature to such a growing number of international visitors that it is being recognised as an important global asset. We’re grateful that so many people recognise this, and that powerful agencies such as the UN and World Bank are willing to step up and help us preserve something so precious, and at the end of the day so fragile.
If we all continue to do our bit, paradise will be around for a long time yet.