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Mar 22, 2017

Coastal Zone Holds Forum

Earlier this week the CZMAI launched its third Coastal Awareness Week and we showed you how they kicked off the activities with a trivia challenge for Belize City primary schoolers. Today, they took the awareness in a different direction; engaging the private sector in a forum with regional and local experts on how they can be a part of the solution to sustainable coastal management. It was a forum to share best practices and see how all parties can benefit when the natural resources are sustainably managed. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

As a part of the Coastal Awareness Week 2017, the Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute and IDB partnered to host a one day workshop on the Business and Environment. With a panel of local and international experts, the conversation focused on how the private sector’s investment can help to strengthen the coastal environment.


Arlene Young

Arlene Young, Director, CZMAI

“Our target was the private sector; to invite the businesses out because we are normally speaking with the converted, so we were strategic in targeting the private sector, both those agencies that work with private sector from the public sector agencies, like BELTRAIDE, B.T.B., to bring the discussions using and sharing experiences from the region.  We are getting towards that development pathway that really we want to ensure that businesses are being profitable but the bottom line is that the initiatives are sustainable because only in the long run they can be profitable if the environment and the ecosystems that support the businesses are manage in an environmentally friendly way. We want to encourage private sector invest in restoration activities; to invest in activities that will support the very activities that they rely on for tourism, fisheries, aquaculture; so, really we want to hammer in that point that it is not only the conservation sector that is important in these discussions. We need to have that investment and we are seeing the results and the impacts that they are having in improving their profits and reducing their vulnerabilities.”


On the panel is regional sustainable development expert Jake Kheel; he has worked on a number of sustainability projects in the Dominican Republic. Kheel says that there is mutual benefit between business and the environment and so it is critical to invest in coastal zone management.


Jake Kheel

Jake Kheel, VP, Environmental Sustainability, Grupo Punta Cana

“In coastal zone developments, the primary assets that attract people in the first place are the local people and the local environments, so when businesses don’t invest in improving the lives and livelihoods of local people and protecting the assets and national resources – coral reefs, beaches, forest areas – then they are due to damage their own business. So, we think that the private sector can not only be engaged to help promote environmental and sustainability but can also be leaders in sustainability. So, our company has worked in solid waste management, sewage treatment, reuse of water, coral restoration and integrated coastal management. We have worked with endangered species and we have tried to encourage other businesses in the region, in Punta Cana, to do similarly environmentally friendly practices and to make our region a stronger destination, not just our hotel or not just our property but instead make it a regional activity. So, we think sharing best practices, sharing our experiences both the failures and successes is key in increasing sustainability around the Caribbean. We find that the private sector is very driven by bottom line, but often has certain strengths that can be applied to environmental protection, so when you complement that with solid partnerships with foundations, governments, donors, universities, you can really create integrated projects that are sustainable over time. In Belize, for example, if there are additional opportunities for tourists to help protect and restore the reef, there are new things they can look at and if they feel that the environment they are coming to visit is really being cared for then that allows them to come for second visits and that encourages them to really become a part of something in the longer term.”


For more than twenty-five years, the IDB has worked in Belize and made significant investments in sustainable tourism. As a result, it is critical to strengthen that work with partnerships. The IDB’s work in the region centers on integrated coastal zone management, with an emphasis on disaster reduction and increased opportunities for countries.


Ginés Suárez Vásquez

Ginés Suárez Vásquez, Disaster Risk Mgmt Specialist, IDB

“Tourism is a key development sector for Belize and coastal protection is part of a sustainable development of this sector. So, this is why for IDB is really important to be a part of these types of meetings and seminars because we can talk about how to build partnerships in the private-public sector; the role of the international financial institutions and how we can help to strengthen this sustainable development for Belize and the tourism sector.  Regarding coastal management, the Bank is promoting an approach based on ecosystems services – something which is not new for Belize because here there are many experiences taking care of mangroves, taking care of coral reefs – they are important to reduce floods, reduce impact of hurricanes. So these are the same approach the IDB is taking in other countries and we bring the experience from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and the experience for Belize because we are working in the same concept that we can reduce disaster by taking care of the natural resources and at the same time increase the opportunities for tourism sector.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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