In our last segment we told you about the City Council’s “Comprehensive Disaster Management Workshop.” A lot of the talk at that event was about effective structural and infrastructural planning to mitigate disaster risks. That’s the same thing they were talking about in Burrell Boom at the Black Orchid Hotel and Resort. It was a public consultation workshop for a National Climate Resilient Investment Plan – a World Bank Initiative to come up with a comprehensive set of projects that will be largely resilient to climate change and the increasingly frequent extreme weather events that we face. Dr. Kenrick Leslie from the Caribbean Climate Change Center explained how it’s really about effective planning.
Dr. Kenrick Leslie - Executive Director Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre
"What we want to put in place in the region and in particular Belize is to ensure that in our plans we factor in anything that can impact us. For instance we have all lived here for a long time and we know between Haulover and Belize City - they build a road and after five years, it's gone. It means that we have not taken into account the factors that will cause a road that was supposed to be designed for 15 years to be destroyed in 5. So those are some of the things when we talk about Climate Resilience is that you factor in those things that can impact us. We know - this is not a question of guessing - that the sea level is rising at about 3 millimeters per year. You might ask - what is three millimeters - but in ten years three millimeters is 30 millimeters and 30 millimeters is over an inch. Now we are already at sea level so if the water comes up permanently another inch then that flow of water between the north side to the Western road will increase which means that the design engineers must factor that into their program.
Then it means that what happened with the Kendal Bridge will re-happen because then the water will have no where to go because of removal of vegetation."
"While it's all fine and well to contemplate a climate resilience road between Belize City and Haulover - the reason it hasn't been done it's because it would cost too much. The government can't pay for it and any funding agency who you go to - including these same ones who are involved in this project will say - No. A third world country - you don't get to spend $20 million on 4 miles of road - we'll give you $5 million for four miles of road."
Dr. Kenrick Leslie
"Ok now this is one of the things that we are missing - that a number of the financial programs that are online or that are coming online -you can get grants. And what you talked about just now is a grant, we will give you or you can get concessionary loans. Under this program that we are talking about today - you can get concessionary loans at .25% but to get that you must have a plan to show that I'm not just asking for money but I have a plan to show how it will be used and what will be the implications in showing that we have sustainable development."
"Every year the municipal airstrip has to be closed down for more and more days because it's rising sea levels, some people say it's 'high tide, spring tide' all sorts of things. Is that an example of where climate resilience investments could access funding at a concessionary rate because of the climate change which is driving sea levels up?"
Marion Cayetano - Focal Point, National Climate Resilience Investment Plan
"That's a very good example and you're right the municipal airstrip in Belize is at sea level and any rise in sea level will affect the municipal airport. Through this we are aspiring to get some grant funded, we are aspiring to use some of the national budget and we're trying to aspire to contain concessional financing at rates below 5% interest rates."
The Plan will be finalized by the end of September for presentation to Cabinet.