Features — 27 January 2015 — by Adele Ramos
Barrow tells UNESCO: no oil drilling in/near offshore reef protected areas

BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 26, 2015–An official press release issued by the Government late this evening stated that, following his meeting with representatives of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, Prime Minister Dean Barrow has “expressed his willingness to chart a course forward on key management requirements for a sustainable future for the reef.”

The release said, “Prime Minister Barrow confirmed the Government’s policy position to prohibit oil exploitation within and adjacent to the protected areas in the Belize Barrier Reef System.”

The declaration by the Barrow administration comes after the January 19-23, 2015, mission by UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre to Belize, in cooperation with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The parties, said the release, undertook a technical support mission to Belize with the objective of assisting the Government in its efforts to prepare a road map for the removal of the Belize Barrier Reef from the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

As we reported in a separate article in this edition of Amandala, the Belize Barrier Reef was placed on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger in 2009.

Among the issues over which UNESCO has expressed concern are the sale, lease and development of mangrove islands, as well as oil development within and immediately adjacent to Belize Barrier Reef.

“The 1972 World Heritage Convention is aimed at ensuring that the exceptional values for which these sites are listed endure through government transitions so future generations can continue to enjoy them the same [way] we do today,” the Government release explains.

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