Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector as a result of a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.

“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major set-backs to our development progress,” he added.

Belize is often in the direct path of tropical storms and hurricanes, which are expected to intensify due to climate change. This has caused many human casualties and widespread damage, resulting in costly disruptions of vital public services. The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in US$80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a near countrywide power blackout. Likewise, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions last month.

“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

Among the concrete results to be achieved by the Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation Project in Belize are:

• Improved capacity for long-term energy planning, taking into account the impact of climate change;

• Better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological and hydro-meteorological stations across the country;

• Enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events, by strengthening the transmission network and reducing the likelihood of service disruptions;

• Improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan for the power sector;

• Revitalized communication network of the power company, ensuring better command and control coordination during response and recovery operations.

This four year project is financed by a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and US$3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) company.