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First Belize Fund grants for Marine Protected Areas Management handed out

Posted: Thursday, December 22, 2022. 5:00 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Wednesday’s gifts to the co-managers of eight prominent marine protected areas from north to south, four days before Christmas, are intended to be the kind that keeps on giving – in one word, sustainable.

The Belize Fund for a Sustainable Future (BFSF) delivered a total of $559,563 to the Belize Audubon Society (BAS); Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development (SACD); Southern Environmental Association (SEA); Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA); and Toledo Institute for Development of the Environment (TIDE). They are respectively the co-managers of the Blue Hole Natural Monument and Half Moon Caye Natural Monument; Corozal Bay Wildlife Sanctuary; Gladden Spit Marine Reserve and Silk Cayes Marine Reserve; Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve; and Port Honduras Marine Reserve and Cayman Crown; and are intended to use the funds for their management and the protection of critical habitats for marine species and preservation of iconic natural heritage sites within the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

CEO of the Ministry of the Blue Economy Kennedy Carrillo, who also chairs the BFSF, stated: “The BFSF has achieved its targets for 2022, the first year of its existence. True to our commitments, we have put in place a competent team and operationalized the fund, as evidenced by this first disbursement of just over half a million Belize dollars to non-government agencies who manage our marine protected areas.”

Board member Dr Leandra Cho-Ricketts added that the target per year to various entities in annual funding cycles will be $3.6 million per year and that the latest call for proposals was announced on December 16 with an end date of January 31, 2023, with grants to be awarded in April.

The BFSF was legally established in March 2022 as an independent, non-profit fund. It is the mechanism that will manage the funds generated by Belize’s Blue Bond debt conversion agreement, which was finalized in November 2021 through the efforts of the Government of Belize and The Nature Conservancy. This ground-breaking agreement has allowed Belize to convert its national debt into a conservation fund that will generate an estimated BZ$360 million dollars for marine conservation and the sustainable development of Belize’s marine resources over the next 20 years.

The BFSF’s four strategic priorities of the Grant Awards Program are 1. Protection for Biodiversity; 2. Sustainable Fisheries; 3. Climate Resilience; and 4. Blue Business Innovation.

In addition to the Grant Awards Program, the BFSF will also provide funding to government agencies through the Government Strategic Allocation program to support government agencies in fulfilling Belize’s conservation commitments under the Blue Loan Agreement and the Conservation Funding Agreement, which effected the blue bond debt conversion transaction.

 

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