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National Workshop on Marine Litter

Belize has made significant inroads to tackle marine litter, which is a problem faced by many countries. Today, the Department of the Environment, in collaboration with Commonwealth Litter Programme, CLiP, is holding a two-day workshop which focuses on how to derive ways of dealing with marine litter.  Dr. Percival Cho, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of the Environment, told the media that the aim of the workshop is to develop recommendations which will later be presented to the government.

Dr. Percival Cho – Chief Executive Officer of Ministry of Environment: “For Belize the management of waste has always been a part of how we do things in this country and I think that we are a few steps ahead of our neighbors and so this initiative really fits right in with our overall focus on maintaining a clean and healthy environment. The workshop is aimed at developing policy actions that the government can adopt after the consideration of all evidence was presented as well. The second thing is that the workshop presents the evidence and the data that is going to be used to develop some of those policies. At the table and at the workshops you will have heads of departments, heads of organizations both regional and local ones, as well as experts in their relevant fields, people who can give some insight into what may be able to work and what may not be relevant for the context of Belize in terms of the policy, actions or recommendations that are coming out of the workshop.”

Apart from affecting the livelihood of those who depend on the ocean as a source of livelihood, marine litter also contributes to climate change. Stephen Harris, the Special Representative of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance, explains.

Stephen Harris, the Special Representative of the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance: “Marine litter contributes to climate change through the fact that plastic for example is made of oil so at the moment about six percent of all oil production goes into producing plastic and the forecast are is that that that will increase to about 25% by 2050 so it is very important if we are dealing with climate change to deal with some of the sources of the climate change emissions that lead to the heating of the atmosphere and the heating of the oceans.”

Also present at the event was Clare Evans, the British High Commissioner to Belize, who told us that it is hoped that the lessons learned from the workshop will be used by other countries.  The National Workshop for the Development of Marine Litter and Waste Management and Action Plan is being funded by the Commonwealth. In September, a regional conference on marine litter will be held in Belize.