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Oct 28, 2014

2014 Climate Change Conference Opens in Belize

Four days ago, the European Union agreed on targets to protect the changing climate. The principal target was a pledge to reduce emissions by at least forty percent by 2030. The EU is the first major global emitter to reach agreement in advance of the United Nations climate meeting in Paris at the end of 2015. Locally, the University of the West Indies opened today a conference on Climate Change which is seeking to drive home the point that climate change is everyone’s business. Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

A two-day conference on climate change commenced today at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Belize. The conference will see the participation of scientists, environmentalists, farmers, fishers and communities that have been exposed to the adverse effects of climate change. Being held under the theme, “Climate Change and You,” the conference, which took six weeks to put together, seeks to emphasize that the inevitable condition is everyone’s business and all must be involved to adapt successfully.

 

Jane Bennett

Jane Bennett, Head, UWI Open Campus, Belize

“The topic of climate change evolved from the continuous dialogue that has been taking place on the global, regional and national scene for some time now. The input of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, or Five-Cs as we call them from time to time, was sought and received and this was instrumental in the decision-making process for selecting this theme of Climate Change and You. Another component of this conference is the display booths which are outside on the lawn. These entities responded to the invitation to display their products and services that demonstrate how they are adapting to climate change in their respective businesses and organizations.”

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“I extend my appreciation to the Five-Cs in being a partner with the Belize Municipality and with the University of the West Indies in supporting this conference. I wish all participants, presenters, facilitators and students every success in the next two days and I look forward to learning as I myself participate in the conference.”

 

According to Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, Doctor Kenrick Leslie, it is the Small Island Developing States that are the most affected by climate change. Since 2007, the center has developed a program to guide the region in adaptation measures for climate change.

 

Dr. Kenrick Leslie, Executive Director, CCCCC

Kenrick Leslie

“The framework is comprised of five strategic elements which seeks to integrate climate change into the sustainable development agenda as well as promote a range of measures that reduces the vulnerability, the number of states, derive benefits from the prudent management of forest, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and most importantly, implement specific adaptation measures to address the region’s key vulnerabilities. Likewise, the IP is comprised of five core elements: it encourages the use of the tree-once principle to embed a coordinated approach the climate change security across governments.”

 

The United States Government has been playing a role in climate adaptation, providing support and financial assistance to countries affected by climate change.

 

Carlos Moreno

Carlos Moreno, U.S. Ambassador to Belize

“We believe that the time to act is now, not later. To accomplish this goal, we advocate an approach in which all countries—both developed and developing countries—put forward nationally determined mitigation contributions well in advance of the Paris Conference to provide time for countries and civil society to consult before finalizing the agreement in Paris. And we urge the powers that be in Belize to develop such a nationally determined mitigation contribution to climate change.”

 

The key ministry tasked to create policies in adapting to climate change is the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development. According to C.E.O. Adele Catzim-Sanchez, Belize is currently in the process of creating a national climate change policy and action plan.

 

Adele Catzim-Sanchez, C.E.O., Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development

Adele Catzim-Sanchez

“In a way, I am understanding the forest now to be our lifeline. Not just the forest, but the sea because the sea absorbs some of that carbon dioxide as well. So I’m learning to have a newfound appreciation for our natural resources in Belize.  So as we move ahead, we understand more that we have to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. For this reason, Belize is engaged with the Five-C’s in moving towards the implementation of a national adaptation strategy for the energy sector. So we are not just saying we understand that climate change is an issue; we are actually doing something about it. So we are doing things about it at the international level—sure we are trying to influence the negotiations at that level—we are doing something at the regional level and locally as well.”

 

Throughout the two-day event, several teleconferences will be held with regional researches on topics such as gender sensitive responses to climate change; the response of the grain productive sector to the ramification of climate change and IDB support for mainstreaming coastal resilience in tourism development. There will also be local conferences on the effects of climate change on energy, freshwater and agriculture. Duane Moody for News Five.

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