Belize Participates in 4th Urban Economy Forum

Belize Participates in 4th Urban Economy Forum

Minister of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government, Oscar Requena virtually addressed the 4th Urban Economy Forum held at the World Urban Pavilion at Regent Park in Toronto, Canada, yesterday. Minister Requena was among the keynote speakers who spoke on this year’s theme of ‘Sustainable Urban Financing,’ which aims to advance the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 11 of building sustainable cities and communities. In his presentation, Minister Requena focused on the critical challenges affecting the urban sector, such as insufficient financing, climate change impacts, and infrastructure. 

Oscar Requena, Ministry of Rural Transformation: “Sustainability and resiliences are two of the most significant considerations that are to be the basis of our decisions and actions as they are critical to our immediate and future development. In Belize while it is utterly important that we build urban sustainability and resiliency our efforts are equally focused on strengthening our rural and periurban sectors to reduce urbanizations. We want our people to work, grow, play, and develop in the places where they live. Our population estimates show that there is almost an even split between our urban and rural populations. Notwithstanding we do demonstrate a pattern of urbanization which is a characteristic of our Caribbean small island states. Consequentially the vulnerability in urban spaces continues to be worsened by the challenges associated with our inherent low coastal zones that continue to be subjected to sea level rise, informal settlements arising out of urbanization, heat stress and heavy precipitation resulting from global warming, economic conditions and the general characteristics of most of these sites. To adapt and to mitigate these vulnerabilities municipal governments are called to deliver improved services with the aim of enhancing all elements of the urban space. However the limits of the financial position in fiscal space off and for urban governments to address these increasing challenges are significant deterrents for advancing this aim. Therefore it is necessary that the approaches to achieving sustainability and resiliency must be all-inclusive participatory collaborative evidence-based data-driven and innovative.

While highlighting these challenges, Minister Requena also concentrated on the opportunities available for urban governments to build urban sustainability and resiliency through enhanced engagement with central government, the private sector, and especially, public-private partnerships, including strengthening relationships with the financing sector. According to Requena, these efforts should be based on shared and collaborative partnerships that are driven by innovation and evidence. 

Oscar Requena, Ministry of Rur al Transformation: “In Belize we are advancing strategic efforts at the national level to support the desired levels of sustainability for the urban and rural sector. At the national level we have updated our national determined contributions aimed at supporting the national and global efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. We have forged a national climate change policy that outlins our collective and synergized strategies to mitigate and adapt. We have launched our national investment policy aimed at enhancing investor confidence in our nation and to support the ease of doing business and Belize. We have enhanced the business registration legislation and established online business registration facilities provided collaborative space for government and private sector to support micro, small and medium-sized businesses and established a government unit to support digitization efforts and E-governance initiatives to name a few. Our government of Belize recognizes the role it plays in creating an enabling environment for our local and urban economies to thrive. At the local level with the support of the Caribbean Community Climate Change, 5Cs,  we recently took on an initiative to develop a concept paper for advancing a project to build municipal climate resiliency an initiative that will advance for support from climate financing windows. In addition we have increased the level of collaboration and synergies between and among local and national actors to support service delivery, infrastructure, improvements, ecofriendly public transportation, poverty and flood mitigation projects including improving the housing conditions for the neediest.”

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