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Identifying Opportunities for Climate-Compatible Tourism Development in Coastal Belize

by on Mar 4th, 2014

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Growth of the tourism industry is viewed as inherent to economic development in Belize but is often accompanied by habitat degradation that directly threatens the resources upon which the industry depends. The challenge faced is how best to move forward with tourism development whilst maintaining healthy, functional ecosystems that support the tourism industry, sustain livelihoods and provide resilience to climate change. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in partnership CARIBSAVE, the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute (CZMAI), Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the Belize Environmental Research Institute (ERI) are collaborating on project called “Identifying opportunities for climate-compatible tourism development in Belize”. The overall goal of the project is to assess the vulnerability of Belize’s tourism system to climate change, including the coastal ecosystems on which it depends, and determine how current policies facilitate or hinder climate-compatible tourism development based on healthy coastal ecosystems. The assessment will also explore policy reforms and adaptation strategies required to enhance ecosystem resilience to climate change and foster tourism development, at a local and national scale.
It is envisioned that the project will support coastal planners and policy makers in selecting appropriate policies and adaptation strategies for Belize’s coastal zone that meet climate adaptation, developmental and environmental goals. The first phase of work focuses on identifying coastal tourism areas in Belize that are vulnerable to climate change, and which should be prioritized for adaptation actions. CZMAI is taking the lead on this component of the study. Phase two of the research will focus on analyzing the current policy environment to determine whether pertinent public policies support or undermine sustainable tourism development, ecosystem health/function, and climate adaptation.
The project partners recently conducted consultations in Placencia Village, San Pedro Town and Caye Caulker to inform community members and stakeholders about the project and obtain their inputs on the way forward. The outcome of the consultation meetings will be shared shortly.

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