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Potential billion-dollar bounty to save coral reefs

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Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2021. 8:51 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Government of Belize, with US$125 million in hand from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), is looking for an additional US$375 million of public and private capital for projects designed to address the resilience and adaptive capacity of priority coral reef ecosystems and of the communities that depend on them.

The funds were approved by the GCF in its recent board meeting on “Global Fund for Coral Reefs Investment Window”, to be implemented by Pegasus Capital Advisors, the accredited entity in Belize and other countries.

A Government statement says the project is looking for businesses and project activities to invest in that “restore, protect and reduce drivers of degradation across the most resilient reefs. These include (i) sustainable fisheries (ii) sustainable mariculture (e.g. seaweed farming, finfish or shrimp mariculture); (iii) eco-tourism; (iv) coastal sub-national authorities’ mid-size marine impacts infrastructures, such as waste, including plastic, management (e.g. alternative material, waste collection and sorting, plastic recycling), sewage and wastewater treatment, decentralized renewable energy and energy efficiency; (v) coastal agriculture; (vi) marine and other land-based pollutants management; (vii) sustainable port infrastructure and harmless transportation affecting target reefs.”

Coral reefs are among the most threatened ecosystems as a result of climate change. Belize stands to benefit significantly since it has one of the largest barrier reefs in the Western Hemisphere that is a habitat to threatened species and contributes significantly to the national economy. In addition, it is the main barrier that protects the Belize coastline from hurricanes, storms, high wave energy, and erosion.

The point men on the project are Dr. Osmond Martinez, CEO, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment, and National Designated Authority to the GCF, and Leroy Martinez, economist/GCF focal point, working with the Ministries of the Blue Economy and Civil Aviation, Tourism and Diaspora Relations and other key stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations.

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