Building a Sustainable Future for Belize’s Blue Economy
Belize is known for the lush expanse of its tropical rainforests, natural beauty, and ecological diversity. From the depths of the Belize Barrier Reef to the pristine wilderness of its protected areas, the nation’s natural heritage is a treasure that demands not only preservation but also innovative strategies to ensure a vibrant and thriving future.
A Vision for Belize’s Blue Economy
On March 8, 2022, the Belize Fund for a Sustainable Future (Belize Fund), a private, Belizean non-profit conservation trust fund, was established. The Belize Fund is an integral part of a groundbreaking agreement that was signed in November 2021 between the Government of Belize and The Nature Conservancy. This agreement, known as the Blue Loan Agreement, has transformed Belize’s onerous “super bond” into long-term sustainable finance that will generate an estimated BZ$360 million over the next 20 years to be the catalyst for transformative change in marine protection and conservation efforts.
Belize has always been a haven for biodiversity, home to countless species of marine life, and a sanctuary for migratory birds. Its coral reefs, often referred to as “the jewels of the Caribbean,” are not only vital biodiversity but also a significant source of income through tourism and fisheries. As the global community grapples with the urgent need for climate action, Belize has become a symbol of hope, setting ambitious goals for marine protection and conservation.
In his remarks at the High-Level Oceans Meeting on September 18, 2023, Prime Minister Hon. John Briceño, reaffirmed Belize’s position on financing for ocean conservation, emphasizing that, “The core of our conservation commitment is to deliver outcomes that benefit the Belizean people and planet through building a nature-positive economy.”
Transformative Change: The Role of the Belize Fund
The governance structure of the Belize Fund is an independent Board, comprising nine members, with a non-government majority, that includes representatives from the major stakeholders in Belize’s blue space and the government. The Belize Fund was operationalized in October 2022. Another significant milestone was the launch of the two main programs, the Grants Awards Program (GAP) and the Government Strategic Allocation (GSA) in December 2022.
Since becoming operational, the Belize Fund has invested a total of BZD 16.7 M into marine conservation initiatives with the award of BZD 3.08 M in its first annual grant cycle to six non-government entities and BZD 1.5 M in pipeline projects to two non-government entities under the Grants Award Program (GAP). Additionally, it allocated BZD 11.6 M, for a three-year period, to six government agencies under the Government Strategic Allocation (GSA) program to support the achievement of the conservation commitments. In December 2022, BZD 559,563.00 was distributed to five co-management NGOs to support urgent funding needs for marine protected area management.
Reflecting on its breakthrough year, Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts, Executive Director, shared her perspective: “Our work is pivotal in ensuring that grant funds are allocated strategically to projects that align with the conservation commitments and milestones and make a positive impact on Belize’s marine ecosystems.”
Belize Pioneers Ocean Conservation Ambitions
Belize’s journey towards a vibrant and thriving blue economy has garnered international attention. The world watches with anticipation as we work to implement innovative projects that protect our marine resources while promoting economic growth.
The Belize Fund invites you to join us on this transformative journey to ensure that Belize remains a shining example of how long-term sustainable finance can pave the way for a more resilient and prosperous future for our people and marine environment.
As we look to the future, the Belize Fund will continue to foster partnerships, engage stakeholders, and leverage our success to strengthen Belize’s coastal and marine resilience. Together, we can safeguard our natural heritage and create a legacy of sustainable development and growth for generations to come.