Belize gains access to $122m Adaptation Fund
Belize has gained access to as much as 122 million Belize dollars in grants for climate adaptation and resiliency building measures. The access was sought and granted within three days at COP28 by a group of government officials, led by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, Christopher Coye, and CEO of the Ministry of Economic Development, Dr. Osmond Martinez. At the high-level meetings with climate finance development partners, government officials found that Belize had already been granted access back in 2015, with an approved 40 million dollar grant, but nothing was done to utilize the full-funding. According to CEO Dr. Martinez, the 10-million dollar project to build community resilience via transformative adaptation is scheduled to commence in 2024 and will be implemented by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) as the Accredited Entity of the Adaptation Fund.
Dr.Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Economic Development: “So the adaptation fund $20 million US dollars and of which only $5 million US dollars have been used and that was used the project was completed back in 2019 and it was a project that was implemented by the World Bank and that’s for the MCAP which was within the Ministry of Blue Economy. Well at that time they didn’t have any Ministry of Blue Economy but it did impact the Blue Economy and it was an excellent project to the point that most institutions are very interested in having an MCAP too because it impacts the livelihood, sustainability within the Blue Economy but also helps with the protection of erosion and policies and studies that can help to mitigate the impacts of climate change in our Caribbean sea. But so we had almost $15 million dollars sitting down of which we managed to negotiate and there is a first approval already for PACT which will be a $5 million and the $5 million US which is $10 million Belize will be used to improve the livelihoods in the rural areas. However we still have $18 million Belize of which we strongly believe that we should use it to continue with the housing program but more important to the housing program for the vulnerable population not only vulnerable when you measure it from the socioeconomic development status but also from climate change and Hurricane Lisa was a real eyeopener for us because we were able to see that the damage and the impact that Hurricane Lisa had in Belize City but mostly in the poor people, you know people who have houses that are so fragile to any impact of climate change.”
In the case of the second grant, CEO Dr. Martinez indicated that this second project has an 18-million dollar budget, and is to address the high vulnerability of Belize’s housing sector to direct damage from climate change. This project will be channeled through the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), and seeks to replace homes damaged by natural disasters with sturdy climate-resilient infrastructure.
Dr.Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Economic Development: “We need to build houses that will be able to withstand at least category one hurricane in Belize and so going back to a plywood house that will not be adaptation and it will not even qualify within the program that we will develop. So the main objective here is to improve in general the housing stock, to reduce the debris after a hurricane all of us saw it with Hurricane Lisa it was impressive to see how many truck loads of debris came out from Belize City. But also the danger that we put on families and think about the little kids how unfair it is for a politician to build a fragile home for families who have kids, at least from our end the houses that we’re planning to build and that’ll propose to the adaptation fund they should be able to at least withstand category one hurricane. For me knowing that a poor family can enjoy, a family that lives in poverty, can enjoy and be the beneficiary of funds that are grant and that they won’t cost anything to our tax payers and at the same time help someone to come out of poverty I mean that is at the top of my list and that’s one of the things that I always champion knowing that I grew up being extremely poor and that now we have the possibilities to help someone and through the funds that are there so I mean for me there is no excuse and my officers know it very well. My project managers know it very well there is no excuse why not to implement the projects. Whatever help they need we will get the help, whatever funds we need and if they are there we will mobilize them.”
The country also achieved a milestone at the event through the Green Climate Fund (GCF). In this case, Belize gained access to grant funding of 78 million Belize dollars for building the adaptation capacity of sugarcane farmers in the north. CEO Dr. Martinez told the media that the project has been in the pipeline since 2015 and is expected to gain full approval at the GCF’s Board Meeting in March 2024.
Dr.Osmond Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Economic Development: “Now eight years have gone and finally we are managing to get our first real approved project that will have an impact in our ecosystem and that is one that will have a value of $78 million Belize dollars which is significant, a significant project and that project will be for building the adaptation capacity of sugar cane farmers in the northern part of Belize. And in parallel we are developing other projects for the citrus industry and the banana industry which is also in dire need of help. When you look at climate change one of the main sectors that have been affected the most is the agro productive sector because there are significant impact on its yield and the cost of operation and on top of that you can add inflation. However we are happy. I mean personally I feel happy that GCF is coming through with such a big portion of a project. Nonetheless I am not satisfied. I believe that Belize deserves more. You know when you look at our losses to GDP it’s almost eight percent is our losses to GDP just from climate change and the impacts of climate change, natural disasters in general. So when you look at our losses to what we’re getting you know the loss and damage does not match. So while I am happy I’m not satisfied but this again just motivates in this case me and the Government of Belize to continue to push and to fight for climate justice for all Belizeans.”
Another eight-million-dollar grant was given to Belize, also from the Adaptation Fund, and seeks to solve the coastal erosion issues experienced by Belize, particularly the Monkey River community.