PART I: PROJECT/PROGRAMME INFORMATION
PROJECT/PROGRAMME CATEGORY: REGULAR PROJECT
COUNTRY: BELIZE
TITLE OF PROJECT/PROGRAMME: BELIZE MARINE CONSERVATION AND CLIMATE ADAPTATION PROJECT
TYPE OF IMPLEMENTING ENTITY: MULTILATERAL IMPLEMENTING ENTITY
IMPLEMENTING ENTITY: WORLD BANK
EXECUTING ENTITY/IES: PROTECTED AREAS CONSERVATION TRUST
AMOUNT OF FINANCING REQUESTED: $6 MILLION (In U.S Dollars Equivalent)

PROJECT / PROGRAMME BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT:

Global and regional climate change impacts

1. Belize is a small, upper-middle income country with a population of 310,000 and a percapita GDP of US$4,115 (2009). It is situated on the Caribbean coast of Central America with Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and south. It lies between 15º45´ and 18º30´ north latitude and 87º30´ and 89º15´west longitude. Total national territory covers 46,620 km2, which includes 22,960 km2 (8,867 miles2) of land and 1,060 cays. Belize has a typically moist tropical climate. In accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Belize chose the year 1994 for its first National Inventory of Sources and Sinks of Greenhouse Gases. The results of the Inventory reveal that Belize is a net sink for greenhouse gases, i.e., it absorbs more than it emits. Yet, Belize is extremely vulnerable to adverse impacts of climate change. Therefore, the national objective is focused on identifying feasible adaptation options to address climate change. Through its membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Belize is a partner in the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Its UNFCCC negotiating position is therefore coordinated within this body. Belize is also a member of the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD). It attempts to reconcile the negotiating positions of these two groups into a larger unified voice to achieve the objectives of the Convention.

2. Global climate change remains arguably the most serious challenge to the development aspirations of the CARICOM countries. Observational data for the Caribbean already indicates an approximate increase in sea surface temperature of about 0.6°C above the global mean temperature in the 20th century. At the same time, mean sea level rose over the past century between 2 and 6 mm/year. In addition, rainfall variability that appears to be closely related to the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has increased.1 Due to these changes that have already taken place, climate change related events have started profoundly impacting the region‘s geophysical, biological and socio-economic systems and depleting national budgets. It is well-established that the countries of the Caribbean are among the most vulnerable to global climate change (IPCC, 2007). While the severity of the impacts will vary from country to country, there is a suite of priority concerns directly linked to climate change that is virtually ubiquitous across the region. Sea level rise will combine a number of factors resulting in accelerated coastal erosion, increased flood risk and in some areas permanent loss of land. This may be exacerbated further by increases in the destructiveness of tropical storms, the impacts of which will be greater due to sea-level rise even without increases in storm intensity. The impacts of sea-level rise will be further exacerbated by the loss of protective coastal systems such as coral reefs. The Caribbean has experienced widespread coral loss in recent decades due to a variety of interacting factors including bleaching, which has become more frequent due to higher ocean surface temperatures, a trend which will continue into the future as a result of climate change (Gardner et al., 2003, 2005). Loss of coral will also affect livelihoods, for example those dependent on tourism and fisheries. Sea-level rise will also be associated with saline intrusion into coastal aquifers, affecting the availability of freshwater, which will combine with drought to increase water stress. The IPCC projections indicate a reduction in precipitation across most of the Caribbean throughout the year, with the largest reductions occurring in the boreal summer (Christensen et al., 2007). Hurricane intensity may increase as a result of anthropogenic climate change, although there is uncertainty about the future behavior of hurricanes and tropical storms in general (Vecchi et al., 2008). Belize, like most of the countries in the Caribbean, is also low-lying, with some coastal areas below mean sea-level. In all countries a high percentage of the population and much critical infrastructure are located along the coast2. These factors will be exacerbated by the projected adverse effects of climate change.

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