Reports from the Field (Part 5): Need for financial mechanisms to protect biodiversity in Belize


Hannah St.Luce Martinez is BIOFIN National Project Coordinator in Belize. In this report she explains the need for financial mechanisms for preserving biodiversity in Belize.


As Belize has recently joined BIOFIN, what do you think are important entry points on biodiversity finance for the country?
The management of Biodiversity and its role in sustainable national development is recognized within Belize’s key policies and development document such as Belize’s Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy, the Horizon 2030 which recognizes the importance of the environment as one of its two core thematic areas  and the Belize Millennium Development Goals which speaks of ensuring environmental sustainability by integrating the principles of sustainable development into Belize’s programs and reversing the loss of environmental resources. The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan implementation and the  rolling out of BIOFIN will further facilitate the process of mainstreaming and highlighting the role that all sectors play in breaching the gaps in biodiversity financing in order for Belize to meet its biodiversity targets.


What existing financing mechanisms are already in place for biodiversity in Belize?
Two existing finance mechanisms for biodiversity management in Belize are already in place. These are mainly for in-situ conservation. The first being the Belize Debt for Nature Swap. In the fall of 2001, the United States Government and the Government of Belize, with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy, agreed to enter into a debt-for-nature swap to preserve approximately 23,000 acres of rainforest in Belize and provide for its management well into the future.

The second finance mechanism is the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), a national trust fund that secures its finances mainly through visitor and tourism tax. This provides funds for supporting conservation and promoting environmentally sound management of natural resources and biodiversity. The funds secured by PACT are mainly directed into the improvement of protected areas, their management and community benefits (capacity building, livelihood, education). Community based organisations and non-governmental organisations alike have access to these funds which then affect natural resource management and also impacting the quality of life of these communities.

These finance mechanisms have contributed tremendously to in-situ conservation. These funds however are insufficient in meeting our biodiversity targets and natural resource management needs. Central government does not include a direct biodiversity budgetary allocation, thus it is important to plan and secure adequate financing mechanisms that seek to further these efforts.