Highlights — 17 August 2019 — by Kory Leslie (freelance writer)
IDB shows Belize the way forward

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Aug. 15, 2019– The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has tailored a plan for sustainable urban development in Belize, and the Belize City Council is seeing to it that the plan will be carried out as effectively as possible. The plan was designed to educate stakeholders on the challenges facing Belize City and outline processes to build long-term resilience. The IDB conducted a myriad of data-collection studies concerning Climate Change Mitigation, Disaster Risk and Climate Change Vulnerability, as well as an Urban Growth Study to devise a plan that focuses on Belize’s socio-economic and environmental trends.

 Several tools were used to obtain feedback from the Belizean public on the daily challenges they face that have become detrimental to both healthy and sustainable living. In 2016, a public opinion survey was administered by the IDB to 1200 Belize City residents 18 years of age and older, focusing on topics ranging from environmental issues such as sanitation and drainage to social issues such as employment and public safety. Other methods of data collection that were used to create the action plan included: land use analysis, city branding and local economic development study, mobility study, solid waste study, and a citizen security study.

Based on these studies, six priority areas were highlighted in order for sustainable growth to take place for at least the next 10-50 years in the city. Those are namely: 1. Vulnerability and climate change, which could be tackled by addressing illegal clearing of mangroves, preventing unplanned development in flood-prone areas, etc. 2. Sanitation: Drainage and solid waste, which involves dredging and clearing of canals, and eradication of improper waste. 3: Mobility, which involves the improvement of public transportation and infrastructure, 4: City planning, which entails land management policies to control urban sprawl and protect residents, 5: Energy, which entails alternative energy sources that do not increase the risks of climate change in the country and 6: Employment, education and citizen security, which target the business sector, affordable education provision, effective policing, etc.

The plan was presented and launched on August 1,  when  it was handed over to Mayor Bernard Wagner for implementation as part of the city plan. The launch also featured a series of discussions to outline wayfinding measures to execute the plan. According to Mayor Wagner, several initiatives have already been implemented that are aligned with certain aspects of the action plan. In June of this year there were projects implemented to address problems in drainage and all canals had been dredged citywide. Infrastructure has also been a major focus area for the current council and damaged city streets on both north and south sides have been repaired. In May there was also an initiative to educate the public about proper waste management procedures and benefits.

Mayor Wagner has stated that the council is now in the process of seeking funding from stakeholders to take on the bigger and more long-term elements of the action plan. Similar plans have been created by the IDB and introduced in over 75 cities across Latin America. The Belize City Action Plan for Sustainable Urban Development was conducted through grant financing by the IDB for a sum of USD 1.1 million.

Picture caption: Left to right: Mrs. Sharon Ramclam-Young, Chief Executive Officer, Ministry of Finance, Labour, Local,Government, Rural Development,Energy, Public Utilities, Public Service and Elections and Boundaries; Cassandra T. Rogers, Country Representative-Belize, IDB; and  His Worship Mayor Bernard Wagner, Belize City Council.

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