Coastal Zone Awareness

Right now, the Coastal Zone Management Authority And Institute are well on their way into celebrating Coastal Awareness Week. It's time where the CZMAI wants the country to think about how to protect and preserve the coast line so that it's beauty and financial worth continues, hopefully in perpetuity. 

On Monday, the CZMAI and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development held an opening ceremony to note it's importance:

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"Today is a very special day for the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute. In the first instance we had our official opening of coastal awareness week 2016 which begins today February 22nd and runs through to Saturday February 27th. The theme for this year is The Coast is ours, Let's climate proof it. This theme is very timely; it's very relevant as we grapple with the adverse impacts of climate change. The everyday citizen will attest to the fact that we have period of rain when we would normally have dry season and vice versa and there are other climate change impacts that we are already experiencing. So this week really is to help us as a people and a government to look at viable options for climate adaptation as well as to look at what we can do to ensure that our coastal environment, our eco-systems remains resilient so we can better adapt to the impact of climate change."

Jose Alpuche - CEO, Ministry of Agriculture

"Today almost two decades later and after many challenges and triumphs, we celebrate the completion and endorsement of the National Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan for Belize."

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"It marks the announcement of a decision by Cabinet to formally endorse the Belize Integrated Coastal Zone Management Plan. This plan has been in the making for years and we're very excited and happy that it has now been endorsed and the work continues in terms of having it implemented. This plan is a framework really to guide future investments, to guide how we use our coastal and marine resources. It builds upon the national agenda for growth, for sustainable development and for improving resources management in the country."

But, a major part of the coast line is how the population is affecting it, and negatively in the particular instance of sewage management. As we've shown you, Placencia has been waiting for years for their Integrated Sewage System which was supposed to have been built with international funding and a partnership between Belize Water Services and the Government of Belize. That integrated system is atleast another 4 years away, and and for the other 8 coastal communities, BWS says that to construct fully functional systems for those will cost millions of dollars that it doesn't have. 

But, while the public and private sector grapples with how to fund proper sewage management, the reality is that coastal communities pollute the waters, even if by a little, every time a toilet is flushed. We asked the CEO of CZMAI if sewage management is a part of this Coastal Zone Integrated Plan, and here's what she told us:

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"That is definitely a concern as we continue to grow and expand within coastal and low lying areas; while it's not the specific mandate of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute to implement the on the ground actions in terms of sewage management. It is an issue that has been flagged for national attention and concern and through our sectoral approach to management; we can identify who the key players and actors are, where there are gaps and what can be done to address those gaps."

Daniel Ortiz

"Now ma'am, continuing on this topic, BWS has told us that to run a integrated sewage system for the entire country will cost millions and millions of dollars and investment they can't afford. How does one try to mitigate the cost of something like this, knowing its importance for coastal zone management?"

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"That is definitely a huge concern, identifying and securing the resources to enable that sort of activity. And while that is outside the purview of Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, we do have a mandate to forge those important partnerships with the private sector because they have a vested interest in current and future development. It does not only affect people and not undermining those effects but it also effects business and future economic development. So through this plan and it does provide for interaction with not only sister agencies in government but the private sector as well. We can work to harmonize our common goals and identify and secure those resources that will be necessary."

That was Monday. Today the weekend of activities continued on to Belmopan where the National Coastal Zone Management Authority held a symposium at the University of Belize in an attempt to reach out to as many students and educators as they continue their sensitization efforts. The event saw several guest speakers that focused on topics like using science and technology to address the effects of climate change. CEO of the Coastal Zone Management Chanetelle Samuels told us more.

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"Today we are at UB's auditorium whereby we have implemented our third day of activities, which a coastal seminar and it featured the diverse group of panellist from those working in community based adaptation to scientists to the insurance companies to one of our productive sectors, agriculture as well as; we had a keynote address from Mrs. Ann Gordon who is the coordinator of the National Climate Change Office. And this event is really targeted those in the education system and it allowed us to open up the space for the discussions on why climate change is important, what are some of the impacts that we are already seeing and what we can do on the ground to adapt to these changes."

Emanul Pech

"Is there really a concern, are people really getting it because climate change tends to be one of those topics that is always discussed but no one really pays much attention to it."

Chantelle Samuels - CEO, CMAI

"And the point that you made is a very salient one and it came out of our discussions today where we had a question that there are sceptics about climate change and the question was posed, what are we doing to reach the target audience that we need to. And our response to that is we need to find creative ways, it is a reality and we need to capitalize on those climate changes related events. For instance, we are experiencing changes in our rainfall patterns. There are times of year when it would usually be dry and we get extended rainy seasons and vice versa. So these are the times that we need to create the awareness and we need to be strategic so that we have greatest impact but they effort cannot be a one-time thing, it needs to be on a continuous basis."

Coastal Zone week continues tomorrow with an information fair at the Ecumenical High School in Belize City and a Coastal Fun Night on Friday. Again this year's coastal awareness campaign is being celebrated under the theme "The coast is ours let's climate proof it." 

Channel 7