Climate change is no longer a buzzword. High heat, heavy rain and other wild weather patterns are an indication that what is happening in the skies above us have a great impact on what takes place on the ground. The Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development has received two grants for projects titled “Enhancing Belize’s Resilience to Adapt to the Effects of Climate Change” and “Enabling Activities for the Preparation of Belize’s Third National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)”. In conjunction with the UNDP through funding by the European Union and Global Environment Facility stakeholders have been invited to contribute to the Integrated Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessment on coastal development, water, agriculture, tourism, health and fisheries sectors. Our news team stopped by on Wednesday. Visiting professor on climate change from the University of Montreal Bhawan Singh will outline the threats Belize faces even now from the effects of centuries of pollution and deforestation which contributes to the trapping of greenhouse gases causing increases in temperature and sea level. Closer to home, he predicts, Belize will see changes in weather patterns which he outlines for us here.
Dr. Bhawan Singh- Professor, University of Montreal
“Climates would always go up to 2,100, and depending on how climate would change, I would present some results that I have already completed today, showing how the temperature would change towards the end of this century and the values for Belize, you can get to increase in temperature in this region approaching 3’C. Then, the other climate change variable is your rainfall. The rainfall too, is expected to change but very small…the changes we’re seeing is essentially less than 10%. Most of this change is a decrease of 10%, excuse! This change will be during the winter season…less than 10% in rainfall”.
Diane Wade Moore, UNDP Environmental Programme Analyst, told us that it is hoped that the climate change debate will trickle down to the local sector and become a part of development plans. She explains using our example of the Mayor’s 100-concrete streets plan.
Mrs. Diane Wade Moore– Environmental Program Analyst
“Well, you know, your example is a very good one because it presents itself with the case for these vulnerability assessments- that you consider the vulnerability of your area, and in your planning, your long term vision for…in this case, Belize City. It is…and I do expect that as a City Council, the engineers have considered the issue of climate change is not that you are unable to do what you need to do: in this case, to make the lives of your citizenry better. It is to put in place, the mitigative actions, which will…yes, we are concreting 100 streets, per say, but it is going into this project understanding that you will have changes in your landscape because of climate change; and to build those changes in your engineering”.
Sapphira Vasquez of the Ministry’s National Climate Change Office tells us what are the next steps in the plan.
Ms. Saphira Vazquez- National Climate Change Expert
“We will be having approximately thirty experts from each sector with several representatives from each sectors present here today and they will be present here to know what we’re about to do, how will; this benefit their work which they are currently doing and it will also assist us in the data gathering, getting information that we may need to make this assessment accurate and sound”.
Q: So, after today and tomorrow, what is the plan looking forward, saying that this is just the start?
“Well, after today and tomorrow we’ll be starting to have one-on-one consultations with these various stakeholders to see how much more in depth we can go with the studies and what areas are of concern for them when it comes to climate change and its impacts on their sector”.
The workshop continued through Thursday and, according to Professor Singh, there will be latest available data out on Friday.