Belize, a Small Islands Developing State (SIDS) with mangrove forests, dense jungles and the largest barrier reef in North America, is exceptionally vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Its geographical location and low-lying topography leave the country exposed to rising sea levels and increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes that have traditionally hit the area with catastrophic consequences. Additionally, the economic weight of highly climate-sensitive sectors, notably agriculture and tourism, heightens its vulnerability to a changing climate and threatens its economic development.
In this context, the COVID-19 crisis places an additional burden on Belize’s growth perspective, leading to a 15.5% economic contraction in 2020, the largest in recent decades.
These climate stresses and economic shocks represent major hurdles Belize is facing to achieve the climate adaptation and mitigation goals the country has set out for itself.
The Green Climate Fund (known as the GCF) offers an attractive source of funding, currently capitalised at USD 9.7 billion, and is the largest fund dedicated to climate change in the world which can provide critical support to achieve climate goals. Belize is already seizing opportunities arising from the GCF.
GCF activities in Belize are coordinated by the country’s National Designated Authority (NDA) and the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment (MFEDI), in collaboration with the delivery partner (DP), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). In particular, the MFEDI plays an important role in facilitating access to the GCF in Belize and is responsible for acting as the focal point for communications with the GCF and national organisations, identifying national funding priorities in consultation with stakeholders, giving no-objection to funding proposals, and nominating national organisations for accreditation.
To date, there is one GCF-funded project in Belize, focused on climate-smart agricultural production, and implemented by the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD). Belize has also received support from the GCF to boost the capacities of the country to access international finance for investments in climate change projects, as part of the Fund’s Readiness programme.
An initial 2018 Readiness conducted by Acclimatise Ltd. (now Willis Towers Watson’s Climate Resilience Hub (CRH)) ,“Capacity Building of the NDA and Preparation of Country Strategic Framework”, strengthened the MFEDI’s capacity to carry out its GCF-funded responsibilities and developed a Country Programme to guide Belize’s engagement with the GCF. A Country Programme is a document that guides Belize’s GCF investment priorities and Readiness support requests by translating national climate change priorities into a pipeline of fundable projects and programmes, prioritised by national stakeholders.
The CRH, together with a national consultant, are now implementing a second phase of Readiness activities to update Belize’s Country Programme and further strengthen Belize’s national capacities to effectively and efficiently access, manage, disburse and monitor GCF financing.
Activities have included an online training course on GCF project and programme requirements to build the capacities of the NDA and national stakeholders to prepare, appraise, and submit bankable project funding proposals for submission to the GCF; and the development of a set of gender criteria and indicators to integrate gender considerations into the design and appraisal of GCF concept notes.
Additionally under this project, a broad and country-driven consultative process was launched in the form of two Structured Dialogues to identify new projects and programmes that could be integrated into Belize’s Country Programme’s updated project pipeline. Using a country-driven approach through a first Structured Dialogue a pipeline of projects and programmes aligned with Belizean climate priorities and GCF requirements has been reviewed and prioritised by national stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society. The Country Programme represents an opportunity for Belize to share its climate change priorities with the GCF and relevant accredited entities.
Now a second structured dialogue is taking place virtually from 29th – 31st March 2021 with the NDA secretariat and national stakeholders to validate the updated Country Programme and its finalised pipeline as well as a proposed procedure for continuously updating the Country Programme. By project completion in April 2021, Belize will have developed a robust pipeline of projects and programmes (mostly adaptation-related with a sectoral focus on agriculture, marine and costal resources as well as biodiversity) for submission to the GCF as well as have a clear roadmap for investment priorities to tackle climate change as part of GCF’s first replenishment period of 2020-2023.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment (MFEDI)
The Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Investment in Belize formulates and recommends national development policies, strategies and programmes to promote macroeconomic stability, sustainable socioeconomic development and the reduction of poverty.
About the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC):
The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) coordinates the region’s response to climate change. Officially opened in August 2005, the Centre is the key node for information on climate change issues and the region’s response to mitigating and adapting to climate change. CCCCC sought accreditation to the GCF in 2015 to undertake and scale up both mitigation and adaptation projects across the region in order to drive a paradigm shift in the region’s development patterns.
About the Green Climate Fund
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) is a global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. GCF helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, considering the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts.
It was set up by the 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, as part of the Convention’s financial mechanism. It aims to deliver equal amounts of funding to mitigation and adaptation, while being guided by the Convention’s principles and provisions.
Leroy Martinez of the Ministry Finance, Economic Development and Investment
 Acclimatise Ltd. was acquired by Willis Towers Watson’s (WTW) Climate Resilience Hub (CRH) on 11 November 2020. WTW is a global advisory, broking and solutions company with extensive experience consulting on climate change adaptation and climate finance.