The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the government of Belize and with the support of the European Union, launched the project: "Enhancing Belize's Resilience to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change" on Monday at a ceremony held at the University of Belize in Belmopan.

The project aims to enhance adaptive capacity and resilience to climate change in national policies and demonstrate action in support of effective governance of climate change and climate change related impacts in the water sector in Belize.

The total cost of the project will be �3,170,746, with �2.9 million being provided by the European Union (EU) - Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) and �270,746 being government of Belize / UNDP co-financing; the project is scheduled to be implemented from July 2012 to November 2014.

The Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) was launched in 2007 by the European Commission to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on climate change between the European Union (EU) and developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, in particular Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are hardest hit by the adverse effects of climate change even though they have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions.

"Development is not sustainable if it damages the environment, bio-diversity, and natural resources, and increases exposure and vulnerability to natural disaster. EU development policy should promote a green economy that can generate growth, create jobs, and help reduce poverty by valuing and investing in natural capital, including to supporting market opportunities for cleaner technologies, energy and resource efficiency, local development while stimulating innovation, the use of ICT, and reducing unsustainable use of natural resources. It should continue to improve resilience of developing countries to the consequences of climate change." said Ambassador Paola Amadei, head of EU Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands.

She explained that, among other concrete targets on this global issue, "For 2050, the EU leaders have endorsed the objective of reducing Europe's greenhouse gas emission by 80 to 95 percent compared to 1990 levels, as part of the effort by developed countries as a group to reduce their emission by a similar degree."

In support of this political commitment, she stated that "the European Commission has proposed that at least 20% of the EU budget for 2014-2020 should be spent in climate relevant measures"; the proposal is being tabled by the European Council. "This extends to the fund for development cooperation, and there is a commitment to increase funds for the 'green economy' and new financial perspective."

Welcoming this renewed partnership in her remarks, Lisel Alamilla, Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development referred to the various technical studies in emphasizing the importance of Belize's concern on the issue of climate change resilience and adaptation.

"Belize's vulnerability to the effects of climate change undermines the very basis of this economy making the need for a comprehensive response by the Government and the country's development sectors more critical. It is predicted that average temperatures in Belize will increase by as much as 3.6 degrees by year 2050, and that there will be significant variations to the country's rainfall distribution patterns, with the North and the East experiencing increased values and the central and the South of the country showing a general drying tendency," she said.

She added that the predicted changes will result in "impacts on to the country's available water resources, its agricultural productivity, and its natural land and sea scape, altering the country's tourism package. The associated social impact of climate change within our national setting is expected to be great as people's livelihood, food security and vulnerabilities are expected to be impacted negatively."

The government of Belize, she said, is seeking integrated solutions to the challenges of climate change and opportunities for increasing resilience and adaptation.

Roberto Valent, resident representative, United Nations Development Programme expressed appreciation for the government of Belize's active involvement as a member of the United Nations, and for the other partnerships being re-enforced by this project on the critical issue of climate change, affecting not only the country, but also the region and the world.

He described the role of the United Nations in climate change, saying, "The United Nations in 1992, at the Earth's Summit produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UNFCCC, as a first step in targeting the problem. The United Nations and its specialized agencies continue to lead on issues associated with climate change including awareness raising and have committed its talents and resources to investigate global solutions to the challenges of climate change, but also to promoting individual state actions which produces the desire to mitigate global effects and it is clear that the United Nations through the various conventions and programmes play a critical role in providing a platform for discussion and partner strategy setting among countries so that the whole issue of the detrimental effects of climate change can be tackled once and for all."