Belize is hosting a two day south-south cooperation exchange as a participant of the Global Biodiversity Finance Initiative, BIOFIN. Joining the workshop are representatives of other regional BIOFIN countries including Costa Rica, Colombia and Guatemala. Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries, Environment and Sustainable Development, Omar Figueroa, says through this engagement, Belizean stakeholders will gain insight on finance modalities developed by targeted BIOFIN countries, as well as the experience of other BIOFIN countries in the implementation of the BIOFIN assessments.
“What the project does is that it tries to identify financing gaps in order for us to meet our obligations and we need to stop looking at biodiversity simply from a solely protectionism standpoint and really understand that it is all about finance. So I think one of the fundamental objectives here is to change the dialogue from strictly biodiversity and environment and send that dialogue towards one of finance. At the end of the day we will succeed at conserving our biodiversity if we understand that it is about finance and in so doing I think we will be better able to establish the conservation strategies and implement them. When you become a signatory to that convention it comes with certain obligations. I think we need to do our part in conserving our wealth of biodiversity in this country, what the works hope does here today is that it brings key partners from countries that have BIOFIN has already established and moving far ahead than we are so we have Costa Rica, Colombia, Guatemala and we also have a key technical advisor. So what the workshop aims to do today is allow us the opportunity to learn from these countries that are a little bit ahead of us so that at the end of the day we don’t duplicate any errors that they may have made and that are in a position to take advantage of some of the successes that they have and benefit from having them here today and guide us a little bit so hopefully at the end of the day we will be able develop our own financial strategies, financial mechanisms that in many ways will be tailor made for our country, for Belize.”
“At what stage would you say Belize is in this biodiversity initiative?”
“The project was launched in Belize last year so we are still in many ways at the infancy stage that is why we have this workshop today where we are giving key partners and trying to hear from them, learn from them and try to give them the opportunity to be a part of the overall solution. It’s important to bring all the key plays to the table and that is what we have today.”
BIOFIN’s Global Technical Advisor for the country, Andrew Seidl (CY-DEL), told Love News that the aim of the exchange is to ultimately strengthen BIOFIN implementation in Belize.
“The initiative itself came out of the UN convention for biodiversity where countries have been considering that the investment in biodiversity is lacking. However we don’t know by how much or what we are currently spending. So the donor countries of the CDB initiated this program in order for us to run a pilot program across 30 countries to estimate both what is being spent, what the gap is and how to fund innovative solutions to try to bridge that gap.”
“Where would you say Belize is at the moment in terms of this initiative compared to Costa Rica and Guatemala?”
“Costa Rica, Guatemala and Colombia were among the first cohort of countries in the 30 and Belize was in the last cohort and so that is one of the reasons we thought it would have been a good idea to bring in those countries to help Belize move forward. Belize is making good progress in this cohort.”
Seidl said, the initiative recognizes biodiversity not only for its ecological attributes, but also as a development asset.