This morning, the Belize Fund for a Sustainable Future awarded grants amounting to five hundred and fifty-nine thousand dollars to five non-governmental organizations for the management of eight protected areas across.  At a signing ceremony held at B.F.S.F.’s office, Chair of the Board of Directors, Kennedy Carillo, carried out the first ever awards under the B.F.S.F.  The recipients are Belize Audubon Society, Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation and Development, Southern Environmental Association, Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association and the Toledo Institute for Development and the Environment.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Earlier today, the Belize Fund for a Sustainable Future disbursed funds amounting to a little over half a million dollars to five marine protected areas.  The non-profit organization focuses primarily on Belize’s marine resources and provides funding and other forms of support for conservation and climate change activities.  Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts is the executive director of BFSF.

Dr. Leandra Cho-Ricketts, Executive Director, B.F.S.F.

“These partners will support the government and are supporting the Government of Belize in managing eight of the marine protected areas and helping us to meet, or helping Belize to meet its conservation commitments and ensuring the sustainable use of our marine resources.  So we look forward to entering in partnerships with these organizations and expect that we will have a longstanding relationship with you guys. So this is a historic event for us at the BFSF, as it’s our first set of awards that we are giving out and so there could be no more deserving recipients, we believe, and the board believes than, you know, the co-managers that are working with our marine protected areas.”

These activities are identified and prioritized by relevant stakeholders, including the Government of Belize, and includes activities that may align with the achievement of the conservation commitments of Belize arising from or related to the Blue Bond Agreement.  The Ministry of the Blue Economy remains an important partner.

Kennedy Carillo, C.E.O., Ministry of the Blue Economy

“To date our country has met two important conservation milestones in its nine key blue bond commitments, the expansion of marine protected areas and the preservation of key mangrove areas.  Under the leadership of the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute, a multi-sectoral effort is presently underway to meet milestone number three which is our country’s Belize Sustainable Ocean Plan.  What we’re celebrating today, my friends, with the granting of these awards to the members of the newly established network of marine protected areas co-managers is a recognition of the invaluable contributions of our NGO co-managers who, throughout the years, go over and beyond to carry out the important responsibilities that come with marine protected areas management.”

Channel 5