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Launch of the Resilient Reefs Initiative in Belize & introduction of Chief Resilience Officer

The Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI) in collaboration with the Fisheries Department and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) is celebrating the launch of the Resilient Reefs Initiative (RRI) in Belize. The Resilient Reefs Initiative is a global project created to support five of the world's most valued World Heritage reef sites. The objective of the RRI is to bring together local communities, reef managers, and resilience experts to build local capacity and develop new solutions under a Resilience Strategy for combatting the effects of climate change and other local threats. Established by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), this six-year, $AUD1 4 million program is a collaboration with UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme, The Nature Conservancy's Reef Resilience Network, Columbia University's Center for Resilient Cities and Landscapes, Resilient Cities Catalyst and AECOM. The program is enabled by the BHP Foundation. These global partners each bring unique expertise and support to the initiative, as well as help to share the lessons and 'earnings from the initiative with reef communities around the world.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation Resilient Reefs Director Amy Armstrong says: "The survival of the world's reefs. is time critical Through this global partnership, we're giving World Heritage Reefs. the best possible chance of survival by working with the communities that depend on them to build their resilience. Individual countries can play their par4 but together we can fast-track the learnings and the outcomes and apply these new techniques to build resilience in reefs and reef communities globally."

Resilient Reefs funds long team resilience planning, capacity building and implementation in the five pilot sites. This includes funding and support for a new leadership role—a Chief Resilience Officer—in the local reef management authority. The CRO is the point person to spearhead on the ground development and implementation of the Resilience Strategy for Belize. To this end, it is the pleasure of the CZMAI and the GBRF to introduce Ms. Kalene Eck as Belize's Chief Resilience Officer. Ms. Eck joins the team with a wealth of knowledge and experience in marine fisheries and holds a Master of Marine Management degree with a focus on marine policy and law.

Next steps for the Initiative are broad stakeholder engagement and conducting a resilience assessment, both of which will identify priorities and actions for building resilience within the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System and the coastal communities that depend on its resources. In addition to funding the Chief Resilience Officer role and strategy development process, the Initiative has committed $AUD1M to implement priority actions in Belize. This Initiative is expected to complement existing national policies and align with the Ministry of Blue Economy and Civil Aviation in its vision to have a productive, resilient and vibrant Blue Economy that will contribute substantially to the socio-economic well-being of the country and its people.