Belize Ministry of Economic Development Launches Climate Adaptation Communication Strategy
The recent floods and ongoing erosion in coastal areas are reminders that Belize is feeling the impacts of climate change. However, climate adaptation is a broad, technical topic that doesn’t always translate easily to the public. To address this disconnect, the Ministry of Economic Development is rolling out a communication strategy to disseminate climate adaptation information to targeted populations. Today the Ministry met with stakeholders at the Belize Biltmore Plaza, to discuss the strategy and each organization’s role in conveying information to their respective sectors. Nicole Zetina, Communications Officer, Ministry of Economic Development spoke with Love News about the aim of the strategy and the goal of engaging youths through various means. She said the goal of the meeting is to identify tangible actions the Ministry and its partners can take to spread the message of the importance of climate adaptation.
Nicole Zetina, Communications Officer, Ministry of Economic Development: “The first thing that we want to do is instill a sense of urgency that climate change is real. It’s happening and it’s here to stay. We hear a lot about mitigation projects and we need to become resilient but it’s not just mitigating these vulnerabilities that we’re having or the impacts of climate change but it’s adapting because climate change is here to stay. So we need to change our behaviors and our practices to be able to safeguard the resources that we have left. While we want to target everyone we know that we have to hone in. So like I mentioned we’re focusing on five strategic areas or five industries: academia, media, public and private sector and NGOs. We want as the government and as the Ministry of Economic Development to partner with these stakeholders on project and initiatives that can actually try to get the word out there and that we can try to do some adaptation practices and projects to change what’s happening, to change our behaviors. We want to focus on social media influencers as well. We know social media is a buzz and having people actually sharing the message in an interesting way kind of creates some interest. People will be interested to learn about it, to hear what’s going on and so that’s the focus of where we’re taking this strategy. I’m hoping to get some concrete and affordable initiatives that we can actually partner with these stakeholders to then whoever comes after me can implement the strategy. I do not want it to be a strategy that just sits on a shelf but something that is actually implemented, evaluated and monitored over time. Like I said climate change is here to stay and we need to adapt so it’s very important for us to implement the things that we’re gonna be talking about today.”
The agriculture sector is one of the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change due to the relationship between weather and crops. Among the participants at today’s stakeholder meeting was the Resilient Rural Belize (RRB) Project. The RRB project supports over 30 small farmer cooperatives that produce commodities such as onions, carrots, pineapples, and honey. Geraldo Flowers, Program Manager for Resilient Rural Belize said that the collaboration between stakeholders is critical for Belize’s overall climate adaptation, making participation in the rollout of the communication strategy essential to the work of the RRB.
Geraldo Flowers, Program Manager for Resilient Rural Belize: “It is very important for Belizeans to understand these projects, to understand the impact of these projects on areas such as climate change. We just saw last week in fact with all the rains and we are currently not sure what the impact of those rains will be until the data is collected but it’s important to be able to communicate, share this informations. Let Belizeans especially young people, women and other vulnerable groups realize the impact of climate change and how they can become involved through programs such as the RRB in making a difference in a very very climate vulnerable country such as Belize. The Ministry of Economic Development and its RRB projects and other affiliated projects have memorandums of understanding with the University of Belize. We have memorandums of understanding with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, the Bureau of Standards, the Belize Marketing and Development Corporation and all these MOUs are to bring in these stakeholders, communicate with them and be able to harness their capacities to make our projects stronger and to more effectively impact those small farmers in the rural areas of Belize that are so productive but just needs that extra oomph so to speak to be able to do much more than they’re currently doing.”
Today’s meeting was the last in a series of stakeholder meetings that began last August.