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Nov 7, 2019

28 Participants Complete U.B./I.D.B. Climate Change Programme

The University of Belize and the Inter-American Development partnered to create a short term programme to build the local capacity of the management of natural and climate hazards along the Belize coastal zone. Twenty-eight engineers, including private contractors and employees of the Central Building Authority, Coastal Zone Management Authority Institute, Ministry of Works, Forest Department, Fisheries Department, Geology and Petroleum Department, and Sustainable Tourism Program II completed the programme. They held a short ceremony today to hand out certificates and recognize the top performers. Reporter Andrea Polanco was there and has the story.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Belize’s coastal zone is a complex and dynamic resource that provides protection, food, jobs, and revenue for the country. It also supports a variety of marine life and habitats. The services it provides are valued at close to six hundred million U.S. dollars every year. In 2010, more than forty percent of the country’s people lived along the coast and offshore. But development and population growth in make this region vulnerable and in the last couple decades an even bigger threat has emerged.


Rafael Millan

Rafael Millan, Chief of Operations, IDB

“Climate Change is expected to increase the vulnerability of Belize’s coastal zone and the capacity of coastal natural assets to provide ecosystem services and beneficially economic products.”


Climate change is already impacting coastal areas as a result of sea level rise. This causes increase in flood risk, coastal erosion and loss of coastal lagoons and barrier islands. It can also increase saltwater into freshwater systems, further endangering coastal ecosystems. As a result of this, Belize like other countries in this region must be prepared to respond to and adapt to these changes so that they don’t turn into long term social, environmental and economic problems. So, to help strengthen the capacities of those who work in and around our coastal zones, the University of Belize, through its Environmental Research Institute, and the IDB carried out a six-month course to teach engineers, planners and other managers to plan, design and carry out risk-resilient coastal protection infrastructure and sustainable land-use policy and practices.


Leandra Cho Ricketts

Dr. Leandra Cho Ricketts, Admin Director/Marine Science Director, UB ERI

“It is a climate adaptation planning for the coastal zone. It is targeting mainly engineers, people who work in the coastal zone, the technical people dealing with planning and use of the coastal zone. So, it is a hands-on course to equip them to understand all the challenges with the coastal zone, especially in the context of climate change and particularly for engineers to understand what kind of tools they can apply in having a more sustainable construction and infrastructure given Belize’s high risk to climate change and we are seeing impacts of that already. It was a course lasting over six months in five different modules and consisted of several days of field trips, so they went to field sites to asses various features that they were looking at that point and there was also an online portion before they came to the workshop that they had to read and review and complete assignments. So, it is a mixed mode course.”


Today the twenty-eight participants received their certificates of completion. Three of those participants received a distinction. Tristan Usher was the top student.


Tristan Usher

Tristan Usher, Top Student

“It is imperative for us as engineers and other technical engineers to be highly conscious of the coastal engineering structures, their use and effectiveness, as well as to heed to lessons, learn from bad practices that have imposed implications on our coastal region. Training programs such as this one helps us not to only better equip ourselves technically but also to create a paradigm in decision making process relative to coastal engineering and management. It emphasizes the importance that there is no one fix all approach as well as the significance of having factual and relevant data. Isn’t it ironic that there isn’t sufficient coastal data for Belize? However, more than sixty percent of Belize’s population lives near or on the coast. Nonetheless, it is a start where a unique and resourceful program such as this helps us to catapult our understanding of all the fundamentals of coastal engineering and management.”


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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