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Jul 13, 2015

N.G.O.s Present Concerns on Protected Areas Bills

Edilberto Romero

In June, two bills were presented to the House for a first reading – an amended PACT Bill and a brand new National Protected Areas System Bill. But while the N.G.O. community has been calling for these bits of legislation for years, what was introduced a couple weeks ago is not necessarily what they wanted. This morning, representatives of several of those N.G.O.s were before the Natural Resources and the Environment sub-committee to make presentations outlining their concerns. One of the major concerns is the composition of the PACT Board. Programme for Belize Executive Director Edilberto Romero says that even as it currently stands, PACT is unable to attract money to make up a ten to eighteen million dollar shortfall…and what has been introduced in the House is going to make it even more difficult.

 

Edilberto Romero, Executive Director, Programme for Belize

“The reason why PACT has not been able to do that is not because of the staff…it’s because of the composition of the PACT Board. Presently it’s five N.G.O.s on the Board and five government representatives plus a finance expert and the Executive Director. That composition has worked but it has limited the PACT from attracting funds like the Debt for Nature swap…they didn’t put that to PACT. Instead they put it to a private foundation. It’s because of the composition of the PACT Board. Now this amendment is changing that composition from five N.G.O.s to three N.G.O.s, so in our view it’s going backwards.”

 

Jose Perez

Jose Perez, Executive Director, APAMO

“We’ve been accompanying the process of modernizing and implementing the system policy and plan from 2005, and suddenly APAMO has been left out of the consultation process, and individual members have been approached on this issue, but APAMO as an umbrella organization has not. We feel though as we look at the pieces of legislation that overall, rather than having a more integrated and harmonized legislation system, we feel that it’s creating much more confusion. As we look at the Bill we see a lot of inconsistencies and we feel that there is much more work to be done. For any system to be improved we need to have a proper framework. We feel that we have always been the primary stakeholders in protected areas and as co-managers, and we need to sit around the table.”

 

Edilberto Romero

“These submissions I’m made here today are discussions that should have been had during the process because the National Protected Areas System Bill was a draft for a long time, an incomplete draft…and we had seen an incomplete draft, so the N.G.O. community was saying that we need to complete that draft and we have to have the consultation. That wasn’t done, and now what was presented to the Cabinet and to the House was completely different from the incomplete draft, so nobody can say that there has been ten years of consultation. Basically if you’re talking about that National Protected Areas System Bill there has been no consultation really.”

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1 Response for “N.G.O.s Present Concerns on Protected Areas Bills”

  1. Hatari says:

    This is outrageous! Once again GOB is trying to get their greedy fingers on the money that is earmarked for the financing and management of our protected areas. Do you really want one of those “Honorable” Ministers to be in total control of the PACT funds? I don’t think so!

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