Belize’s best bet to adapt to climate change: protecting our coast and reef
By Nadia Bood
Reef Scientist, World Wildlife F...
future for our coastal zone and reef, which can ensure that our ecosystems are the natural
solutions to the challenge of c...
of 2

Nad COP21 op-ed_Belize

Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Source: www.slideshare.net


Transcripts - Nad COP21 op-ed_Belize

  • 1. Belize’s best bet to adapt to climate change: protecting our coast and reef By Nadia Bood Reef Scientist, World Wildlife Fund, Mesoamerican Reef Ecoregion After two weeks of hard negotiations, world leaders left Paris in December with a new climate agreement that they hope will set the base for a global transformation to a low carbon, clean energy future. The Paris Agreement makes it clear that, in order to avoid the most devastating impacts of climate change, we must limit warming of the world’s atmosphere to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to 1.5°C. Likewise, the Paris Agreement suggests that the world now sees adaptation – and, crucially, the funding for it in the shape of access to clean technology – as a key priority. Yet however much was achieved in the city of light, and how warmly it has been welcomed by the politicians who agreed to it, the reality is that the hard work is still to be done. Countries now need to implement their commitments. For Belize, one of the key words from the Paris Agreement is resilience. A study has proved that our coastal and marine ecosystems can provide services worth up to US$559 million per year. Major cities and towns, infrastructures, touristic centres, fisheries and nearly half of our population are settled along the coastal belt. Yet, our dependence on the services the coastal ecosystems provide makes us vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which the Paris Agreement sought to avoid. We need no reminding of how exposed we are to extreme weather events, flooding, erosion, ocean acidification and sea level rise. The floodings we have recently experienced in Belize City and other parts of the country, that caused significant damages, will only get worse with continued changes in climate conditions. These threats, if not addressed properly, could have significant impacts on Belize’s economy and our people’s livelihoods. However the natural solution to our vulnerability lies just in front of us. Protecting our coast, mangroves and reef could be the best way to adapt to climate change and build resilience. Our coral reefs and mangroves not only attract thousands of tourists annually but they also act as a buffer zone reducing the energy of storm waves that hit our coastline; preventing flooding, wave induced damage and erosion. It is estimated that the annual value of avoided damages through shoreline protection services provided by coral reefs and by mangroves combined is up to US$347 million per year. Despite their importance, our coastal zone and reef are coming under increasing pressures from harmful industrial activities associated with tourism-related projects and potential offshore oil exploration. Though the second of these threats may be reduced by the government’s recent announcement that they will legislate for a ban on oil in and around World Heritage sites, only a full ban on the pursuit of oil in all of Belize’s offshore waters will safeguard our precious reef and the livelihoods it sustains. The good news is that we already have a plan that could help us better manage our ecosystems: the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan (ICZMP). Paris should provide an incentive for Belize to rapidly adopt, and then begin to implement, the ICZMP as a way of guiding adaptation projects so that they build our resilience to climate change. Time will tell whether Paris will be remembered as a turning point for the planet, where development became truly sustainable. In Belize, we already have a plan for a more sustainable
  • 2. future for our coastal zone and reef, which can ensure that our ecosystems are the natural solutions to the challenge of climate change. The sooner we can implement that plan, the sooner we can build our resilience and strengthen the reef on which so many of us depend

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