A delegation of more than thirty Belizeans is in Glasgow, Scotland where world leaders are meeting to talk about climate change. The delegation is being led by Prime Minister John Briceno who delivered an eight-and-a-half-minute address earlier today. PM Briceno spoke on how Belize is impacted and the dangers that climate change poses to the country’s Barrier Reef and by extension, the tourism industry.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “Belie is here to demand urgent action to combat climate change. Climate change is the greatest challenge to humanity. Devastating in it’s impacts on every aspect of our lives especially on those most vulnerable. Belize is the proud custodian of the Belize Barrier Reef System, the second largest reef system in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But here is the sad reality. Coral bleaching, stress, doubled from 1.7 in the period 1985 to 2014 to severe level three between 2014-2017. The reef is dying and maybe beyond the point of full restoration. For Belize the Belize Barrier Reef is more than a global beauty. It also underpins our culture and our tourism industry which contributes approximately 40% to our domestic product. Without the reefs Belize’s economy could crumble. Our people’s lives will be forever changed. Excellencies the threat to our barrier reef is a direct result of human induced climate change. That is an undeniable fact. Belize is doing what it can to slow the impacts.”
The eyes and ears of the world are focused on the discussions in the days ahead at the twenty-sixth Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). Extreme weather events – active and powerful hurricanes and storms, floods, heatwaves and forest fires – continue to intensify and as such, this conference could see key announcements including a more robust switch to electric cars, phasing out coal power, less deforestation and funding of coastal-defence systems. In this context, Prime Minister Briceno also spoke on the need for increased financing for small island developing states like Belize to increase adaptation to climate change.
Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister of Belize: “I am pleased to announce that Belize just entered a $360 million debt for marine conservation transaction – the largest blue bond transaction ever and established a permanent $100 million US marine conservation trust fund. We will increase our marine protected biodiversity zones by 30% by 2026, four years ahead of our target and we will place all remaining public lands in the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System under protection. Belize is proud of our record on conservation but all will be lost if the countries of the G20 obfuscate and abdicate their responsibilities to act. With right on our side we demand on our side we demand climate justice. We demand immediate action. Ambitious action to save our planet.”
The COP-26 conference is essentially the framework which will spur discussion and policy change on how we take care of our planet. It is seen as a platform that could lead to major shifts in our everyday lives as the world’s average temperature continues to increase and the calls get louder to reduce emissions from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. On the margins of the Summit, Prime Minister Briceño and his delegation will hold bilateral meetings with heads of state of Norway, Finland, Canada, Switzerland, and the Dominican Republic, among others, as well as host discussions with key agencies such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the Adaptation Fund. The delegation also includes Minister Eamon Courtenay, Minister of State Christopher Coye, Attorney General Magali Marin-Young and Cabinet Secretary and Chief of Staff Stuart Leslie. Minister Orlando Habet will lead the remainder of Belize’s delegation through the sessional and high-level political negotiations from November 3 to 13. The delegation will include Minister Andre Perez, CEOs Kennedy Carrillo and Doctor Osmond Martinez and Blue Economy Director Beverly Wade. Love News’ Senior Reporter, Hipolito Novelo arrived in Glasgow today and will be providing reports over the next two weeks.