Environment ministers meet in Belize

The week's second regional
conference opened this morning
in Belize City and News 5's
Ann-Marie Williams found that
the delegates had come to the
right place.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
CARICOM Ministers of Finance and Planning this
morning met with their colleagues, who are
responsible for the environment, as the first joint
meeting of CARIFORUM ministers opened at the
Radisson in Belize City.

Prime Minister Said Musa in his opening address said
that sustainable development is more easily achieved
with cooperation.

Prime Minister Said Musa
"To obtain broad policy support, to advance the
projects currently under preparation in the region and
to develop a strategy for future access to
international resources. It is also hoped that we can
create an awareness of the facilities available to
member states, which would assist them in meeting
their international environmental obligations. Another
critical item to be considered at today's meeting is
the need to develop the institutional capacity for
sustainable development programmes and policies.
This includes the proposals to establish a Caribbean
climate change centre and also the proposal to
establish a Caribbean foundation for sustainable
development. Such institutions are critically needed to
provide the framework for systematic co-ordination."

Environment Minister Johnny Briceno cited climate
change as a hot topic.

Johnny Briceno, Minister of Environment
"When it comes to climate change, which is a big
issue, if we were to talk to some of the older folks in
our country, they knew when it comes to hurricane
that a hurricane would come, strike for six, twelve
hours and leave. Now when we look at Keith, and
even Mitch in the region, they come and they stay for
two, three days. The older folks will tell you well
something is wrong, and obviously it has to do with
climate change, global warming that are causing
these problems, the intensity of these hurricanes and
the length and the duration of these hurricanes. Now
through these projects, through the climate change,
we as a region can then access funding to be able to
mitigate some of these disasters."

Briceno says sustainable development can only be
achieved if there's a successful marriage between
financial and environmental partners.

Johnny Briceno
"We have signed an agreement or a project with the
World Bank whereby we are going to get about ten
million U.S. dollars to be able to look at the reef, see
how we can keep it in a protected and also use it in a
sustainable manner for the region: Mexico, Belize,
Guatemala and Honduras. This is the same concept
that we are trying to use again not only in Central
America, but even in the Caribbean region."

"We cannot have the Ministry of the Environment
working on certain projects, while the Ministry of
Finance is working on something else that is going to
be clashing with one another. As we said, here in
Belize we are looking at responsible sustainable
development. Responsible for the environment, to
ensure that we are not degrading the environment and
sustainable development that whatever projects we
do, are going to be done sustainably."

CARICOM Secretary General Edwin Carrington made
comments that resonated with the participants.

Edwin Carrington
"I make bold to suggest that the Caribbean of small
countries can only be successful by the closest
cooperation and co-ordination among ministers of
finance, planning and the environment within each of
our countries and across the entire Caribbean."