|Overview : |
In 2016, the Government of Belize adopted its medium-term development strategy, the Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy (GSDS). Within the GSDS, the Government of Belize highlighted the role of biodiversity management as a critical success factor in acquiring Sustainable Development. This action created a positive and enabling environment for the implementation of Belize’s newly developed Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) and more specifically the National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan which serve as a road maps for achieving our Biodiversity goals and targets by maximizing the potential of protected areas which serve as Belize’s main conservation tool.
In Belize, PA’s are the main management tool for biodiversity protection and conservation. PA landscapes cover approximately 36.6% of the national territory and 19.8% of the marine environment. The management of these areas are challenged by financial constraints to acquire and deploy resources for their effective management. A study to develop a Financial Strategy for the Protected Areas System, conducted in 2010 by the UNDP (in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy), found that a funding gap of US$10.2 million for a basic scenario and US$ 19.4 million for an optimal scenario existed between current investment and funding needed to operate optimally. The analysis carried out for this strategy, clearly shows that the level of funding is insufficient to sustain management activities.
The Belize National Protected Areas System (NPAS) is primarily financed by the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) and extra-budgetary sources (grants). PA’s however generally face persistent budgetary shortfalls due to the management entity’s dependence on donor/grant financing to meet recurrent/operating costs and fluctuation within the tourism industry. For long-term effectiveness of the NPAS, it is critical for PA’s to achieve financial sustainability through the growth and diversification of site-level revenue streams, and a reduction on the dependence on external sources (grants).
In this regard in 2016 financial assistance was received from the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN), to quantifying the biodiversity finance gaps and develop a National Biodiversity Finance Plan for Belize. This Finance plan identified sustainable financing mechanisms for implementing the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and other relevant national policies and frameworks relating to biodiversity.
Also building on recommendations of the Sustainable Financing Strategy for Belize’s National Protected Areas System, the GoB via the BIOFIN Project, seeks to strengthen financial sustainability of PA’s through the development and implementation of a National Business Framework for Protected Areas. This framework will allow PA administrators and managers to identify and implement business solutions and plans to generate new, and/or additional revenue streams to aid in covering operational costs as well as support resilience against financial shocks.