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Ministry of Sustainable Development to Become a Party to the CITES

The Ministry of Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Disaster Risk Management is expected to present legislation in the National Assembly for Belize to become a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) (sigh-teez). Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry, Dr. Kenrick Williams says this will allow for Belize to fulfil its commitments, which address the illegal trade of endangered fauna and flora. He added that the legislation will also allow the country to promote the management, conservation, and protection of these flora and fauna.

Dr.Kenrick Wlliams, CEO Ministry of Sustainable Development: “So what we’re doing is to set up that legislative framework that will govern how we treat with these endangered species so your species of Mahogany and Rose Woods and various fish species like your conch and lobster and stuff like that which are part of the endangered species list. So what the Ministry is doing is to outline the framework for that convention and how we will treat with it so therefore setting up a management authority system that outlines the scientific authority, the schedule for fees and permits and stuff like that so it’s really the whole institutional and governance framework as to how we would treat with these endangered species as part of our commitment under the convention.”

Reporter: So how does that work out in terms of actually work on the ground because this is basically paperwork to start off with. In terms of enforcement.

Dr.Kenrick Wlliams, CEO Ministry of Sustainable Development: “Right it’s essentially the legislation that like I said would outline the broader framework. So what we will have is we’re setting up a management authority that will be responsible for the oversight and management of these endangered species, the permitting process, the certification process, the enforcement process so that management authority is being spelled out in this legislation who are the responsible entities that would be involved.”

According to CEO Williams, the legislation will also establish the necessary legal framework for enforcement. However, the challenge would be to finance enforcement, especially in remote areas.

Dr.Kenrick Wlliams, CEO Ministry of Sustainable Development: “Part of this process intends to raise some of that funds and target some of that funds to support some of those key biodiversity hotspots, some of those key areas now that we need to beef up the rangers on the ground, we need to even beef up the understanding and assessment of stocks, continuous assessment of stocks to inform the scientific body, to inform the management authority on their decisions. So if it is that we get a request for a concession within a certain forest reserve then we have to have better understanding of the information that will inform the various authorities. Be informed however that of course within certain categories of protected areas, national park, nature reserves etc we’re not allowed to give any concessions by nature of our national legislations the National Protected Areas Systems Act which does not allow for the exportation or extraction of these species within those reserves.”

Reporter: Okay so will it be somewhat like a multisectoral approach where you have a forest officer, because a BDF can’t arrest a person, a police officer could, someone from the mining unit can lay charges in relation to mining, a forest officer can lay charges in relation to – would it be some sort of like that approach where you have representatives from different agencies ? 

Dr.Kenrick Wlliams, CEO Ministry of Sustainable Development: “Well that’s on the implementation side of this work and this legislation does not speak specifically to how that will be operationalized. That will be operationalized by the ministry the existing processes of our ministry of sustainable development and other partner ministries like natural resources. Or in the case of the marine side the Ministry of the Blue Economy via the Fisheries Department. It is to answer your question specifically it is intended to be a multisectoral approach as we have treated with several of the infractions – well from the implementation or the monitoring and enforcement to addressing the issues of infraction we tried as best as possible to do it from a more multisectoral approach. I think what has to happen is that that needs to be scaled up and what we’ve consistently faced as a government of course is limited resources. So what we’re intending to do here is to target those resources to ensure we scale up the monitoring, scale up the enforcement and then of course to deal with the infractions in a more consistent and efficient approach.”