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Opposition Leader Says the UDP Started the Blue Bonds Initiative

The Nature Conservancy in Belize (TNC) has described its discussions with the Government as successful regarding the proposed Blue Bonds Financing. According to the TNC and the Government Cabinet, the complete and finalized proposal has been mutually agreed upon and will be presented on Monday at the House of Representatives meeting in Belmopan. In speaking on the issue this morning, the Leader of the Opposition, Patrick Faber, confirmed that his side will be voting in favor of the proposal as he believes that it is a good move for the country. In his statement on the issue, Faber did make it a point to say that the Blue Bonds initiative had actually begun under the previous administration and that the Briceno administration is only continuing the efforts made by the UDP.
Patrick Faber, Opposition Leader: “We in the opposition want things to improve. You see the Blue Bond bill that will go on Monday? We are more than likely going to support that bill because we want the best for Belize. We want things to improve. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have our say and we’re glad when they follow what it is we have set in trend and that is very much the case and that is more or less what we’re going to argue. So don’t act like this is something that you’re doing. Give credit where credit is due. You have been the one who said that we have politicians who don’t have the right vision and don’t do the right things well the UDP embarked on these things because it was the right thing to do.”

Once the entire process is completed and the Blue Bonds program is in effect, there are several commitments that the Government of Belize will have to undertake. Among them is the completion of a Marine Spatial Plan which entails the designation of thirty percent of the country’s ocean in biodiversity protection zones. Of that thirty percent, half of it would be categorized as high protection while the other half, medium protection. The designation would then have to be gazette and submitted to the relevant international authority such as the World Database on Marine Protected Areas, International Maritime Organisation, International Hydrographic Organisation, among others. The government will also have to designate public lands within the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System as Mangrove Reserves. It would also have to conduct a revision of the country’s Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan with a goal to include marine and coastal biodiversity offsets. Also, the government will be required to have three local marine protected areas to be placed on the Green List with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A revised framework on high seas fisheries will also have to be undertaken based on socially responsible international best practices. It is a long list of requirements as they related to better management and care of the marine areas and also entails a review on the regulations that govern Environmental Impact Assessments. There are several other expectations on the list involving watershed management plans and an annual conservation report on the status of achieving the required commitments. And while the government seeks to achieve these goals, there will be The Conservation Fund running simultaneously. The Conservation Fund is a collection of money’s including a portion of government’s contribution that will be available to fund projects aimed at achieving conservation outcomes. The Fund will be controlled by an independent body. A full explanation on The Conservation Fund is expected to be presented at Monday’s House Meeting.