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Jun 30, 2017

Belize Short Again in Protecting Barrier Reef

The World Wildlife Fund and the Belize Coalition say that Government has failed to implement promised protection for the Belize Barrier Reef World Heritage Site. According to the WWF, this leaves the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere under threat. UNESCO had requested that G.O.B. put in measures to protect the reef and so WWF and Belize Coalition carried out assessments to determine the progress on the protections essential to the reef’s long term survival as identified by UNESCO. Advocacy Lead of the WWF Belize Valentino Shal says that the scorecard from that assessment shows that Belize has fallen short.

 

On the Phone: Valentino Shal, Advocacy Lead, WWF Belize

“Overall, our assessment of those measures taken by the government have fallen short and so we feel that  while there are some things that have been done, more can be done and more needs to be done as soon as possible.   According to the scorecard that we released, one of the main areas of concern is the issue of offshore oil, G.O.B. promised in December 2015 that there would be legislation banning offshore oil in the world heritage site and along the barrier reef but up to this point when we issued the scorecard there hasn’t been such legislation. And so, a lot of time has elapsed and there hasn’t been any movements on that side and so that was one of the key areas that need to be addressed. Another one too is the sale and lease of public lands in the marine protected areas that make up the world heritage site. UNESCO continues to insist to the government that they need to legislate a ban on the sale and lease of public lands on these protected areas and that too has not seen any movement at all. And the other issue of course if you look at the score card that received a one or a red that means little to no progress  is the environmental regulation that needs to be improved to ensure that there is adequate or proper protection for the world heritage site. We still face with issues of unsustainable unmanaged coastal development that has the potential to put the reef at risk and so these are the issues that the Government needs to address as soon as possible.”

 

Since those recommendations were not fully met, the barrier reef system remains in danger. As we told you two weeks ago, Belize got an advance decision from the World Heritage Committee stating that Belize will not be removed from the ‘in danger’ list. In the next few days the Committee meets in Poland and the official report will be issued.

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