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May 17, 2017

Caribbean Urban Forum Unites Region’s Planners

The Belize City Council has teamed up with the Belize Association of Planners and the Caribbean Network for Urban Land Management to host the 2017 Caribbean Urban Forum. Approximately one hundred and fifty persons will engage in discussions on how to better plan for growing cities and towns. News Five’s Duane Moody was at the Radisson and files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

A three-day conference, the seventh edition of the Caribbean Urban Forum, is being held in Belize starting today under the theme, “[Green] Energy, Economy and Space Pathways to urban Sustainability.” The conference brings together policy makers and local government officials from across the region, including Belize, to discuss urbanization and the increasing vulnerability to issues such as climate change, rising socio-economic and development challenges. Poverty, crime and violence, as well as lack of housing and stifled economic growth are at the core of those challenges.


Carolyn Trench-Sandiford

Carolyn Trench-Sandiford, President, Belize Association of Planners

“As a society and as communities within the Caribbean, we get together once a year to discuss what are some of the key historical, contemporary and emerging issues in the Caribbean. There are three key things happening currently. One of course there is climate change which poses an existential threat to our society and our community. Two, there is the process of urbanization where people are moving into urban spaces and that brings its own challenges but also opportunities.”


Over the years, several infrastructure and economic projects have been put in place through the CARILED Project and funding from the Ministry of Local Government to develop urban municipalities. According to C.E.O. Kerry Belisle, there must be multisectoral approach to service modern cities.


Kerry Belisle

Kerry Belisle, C.E.O., Ministry of Local Government

“We need to ensure that we provide a framework that ensures municipalities to act in a more decentralized environment while delivering the kinds of services that are required by modern cities. In that regard, the capacity at the municipal level is very critical to ensuring the balance between service delivery and an appropriate policy framework. So we think the kinds of information coming out of this session today should go a long way in helping the ministry to build that environment that would make municipalities more successfully sustainable.”


But how do you enhance the quality of life of persons living within a municipality? Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley says that expanding the city range is not sustainable for development and there is need for the community to develop a culture of ownership for open spaces.


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“We are talking about poverty reduction, we are talking about citizen security and so these conversations are very, very critical to building that kind of community that’s resilient and that we want to live in. It is very important likewise, I mentioned this in my opening remarks; that it is important for members of the public to be aware that these forums are going on. So it is not only a closed door station. We have taken deliberate steps to ensure that we have the urban expo so that people can see the product of research that we have been doing with the “Emerging and Sustainable Cities Initiative, funding by the Inter-American Development Bank. And the scenarios for development; how you can see your city growing or not growing depending on the pathways towards sustainability as we call it.”


According to Director of the Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management, Doctor Asad Mohammed, the forum’s objective is to turn the shared knowledge into actionable plans.


Asad Mohammed

Doctor Asad Mohammed, Director, Caribbean Network for Urban and Land Management

“When we started the Caribbean Urban Forum in 2011 in Guyana, not one single Caribbean country had an urban policy; not one had an urban policy. They had planning policy, but that is different from an urban policy because urban is a little more than spatial planning. It’s about economy, security, a range of integrated thing. The first thing within the first three years was to establish a Caribbean Urban Agenda with CARICOM and that now is being utilized by many countries within the region, including the international agencies to try and reform what is the appropriate urban policy regionally that the individual countries can adapt to their needs.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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