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Aug 18, 2017

Environmentalists Savor Victory ‘For All’

Janelle Chanona

OCEANA in Belize has been lobbying tirelessly for a complete ban on offshore exploration since it established itself in the country under the leadership of Audrey Matura.  During that time, the organization partnered with the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage to hold a referendum on offshore drilling.  While a majority of votes were in favor of a prohibition, government refrained from acting on the consensus until five years later.  According to Vice President Janelle Chanona, the positive development is a win for all Belizeans.

 

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, OCEANA Belize

“I think this has to be construed as a giant, momentous occasion, it’s one significant step for Belize signaling to the world that it full intends to incorporate a sustainable development agenda as we map our future, and with that safeguarding marine resources is high on that list of priorities.  So, for the members of the Belize Coalition to Save Our Natural Heritage, today is a very momentous day.  This is an example of exemplary leadership, we hope it would be replicated around the globe.  But certainly, as I think the prime minister referenced in his comments, it affords Belizeans the piece of mind that all Belizeans deserve on this issue.  They have stated and restated that they want to be involved in this issue, so once this law is passed that is exactly what Belizeans would be able to enjoy.  I think that it goes without that this has been an issue that has been in the headlines and in conversation since 2011 and I think the constant factor in this equation has been the unwavering commitment of the Belizean people on this issue, in that they have, as I said, used all ways possible, every way that we’ve asked them to and some at their own initiative to show leaders that this is an important issue that they want addressed and that they want legislative action on.  So I think that is really the prevailing factor.  And this is truly, as I said, once this becomes law this would be a significant accomplishment for the Belizean people, for Belize.  And I think Belize would really set itself apart as a leader in this area and we can only hope that that exemplary leadership will be replicated.”

 

Reporter

“Is it gratifying from an emotional perspective, seeing as though you all have labored so long from when Audrey was at Oceana and she had the referendum and now finally it’s here?”

 

Janelle Chanona

“Jules, I have to think that it needs no reminder that for tens of thousands of Belizeans that depend on these marine resources that their livelihood and their quality of life that this is a very emotional issue because it’s a bread and butter issue.  So I think the emotional factor of that is not lost, and again that’s a piece of mind that money can’t buy.”

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