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Aug 26, 2022

NGOs to P.M.: Halt All E.I.A.s Until Environmental Laws are Amended

It’s no secret that several of Belize’s environmental regulations need to be updated. Potential investors have openly stated, time and again, that Belize’s standards fall short of international ideals. The government has taken first steps to begin the amendments to those portions of our legislation that are ambiguous or unclear. But while that is being done, a group of non-government organizations has written to the Prime Minister, formally requesting that all the ongoing environmental impact assessment process, including public consultations be put on pause until these amendments are completed. The letter, signed by twelve conservation groups, states in part, Non-governmental organizations and civil society are extremely concerned by public statements made by potential investors that appear to assert that once an Environmental Impact Assessment is allowed, environmental clearance must follow,” . Vice President of OCEANA in Belize, Janelle Chanona, shared with News Five that the NGOs believe that we all must collectively be certain of the decisions that we are going to make as a country and draw clear lines where projects are concerned.


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, V.P., OCEANA, Belize

“If we’re not making sure that we have the set of laws that will create scenarios that we want then really we are leading ourselves and others and investors down a path that we may not want to go down, and at the end of the day, they might have a justified reason to come and tell us “Ay man, you mek ah feel like this thing mi gwein ahead,” and you know, we don’t want to inadvertently or deliberately create a scenario where they feel like they were led along and led to believe certain things if that is not the case. At the end of the day, the more clear our laws are, it’s helpful to everyone involved – for the public to know exactly what means they have of engagement and how these processes are going to engage them and how it will involve them, how these projects are going to hear their concerns and address them and as well for the NGO community, to make sure that we can know what’s happening long in advance. I think all of us, at some point, have felt frustration that we kinda find out about these things in the middle of the night or because somebody knows somebody or all of a sudden there is a fire over here and it’s like no! It shouldn’t be this surprise scenario of constantly holding our breath to figure out what’s gone ahead, what’s been approved and what’s been done and all of that. These are shared resources. We should have the opportunity to know exactly what’s coming down the line or what exactly is being considered before that is being done. And as we called out again in the letter, it’s about making sure that we are planning and planning holistically so that we can optimize our plans and to make sure that the development agenda is one that we want. With some of these decisions it’s toothpaste out the tube. You can’t put it back in. So before we go along and create irreparable and irrecoverable damage to ecosystems unnecessarily and end up with just broken dreams, let’s figure out how we want to go and what areas we want to protect as sacred and what areas we want to sacrifice to sustainable development and make sure that those goods and services are safeguarded as well.”

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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