Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Belize Coalition calls on Government to Save our Natural Heritage

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The Belize Coalition to Save our Natural Heritage calls on the Government of Belize to take immediate action to ban oil exploration in the offshore to help in removing the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System from the World Heritage List of Sites in Danger and prevent the potential delisting of the Barrier Reef as a World Heritage Site.

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Critical actions include no issuing of new oil concessions within the offshore; no giving any extensions to the three companies presently holding offshore oil leases and allowing the relinquishment process to take effect as the Petroleum Act stipulates; and subscribing into law the offshore as a restricted area for oil concessions.

Representatives of the World Heritage Centre and the World Conservation Union are presently in country to review Government’s actions and/or inactions to address the issues which landed the Belize Barrier Reef Reserve, a World Heritage Site, on the list of sites in danger. Prominent on the list of corrective actions is “No issuing of permits for oil exploration in the World Heritage Site.” The mission comes five years after the site was placed on the list of sites in danger and at least one on-site review to check the progress of Government’s corrective actions.

At a meeting with these representatives and stakeholders, the Coalition noted that Government’s draft Zonation Framework which has the entire offshore opened to oil exploration and the overarching Offshore Policy is not leaning towards remedying the issues with oil exploration in the offshore.

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Pointedly, oil concessions within the World Heritage Site aided in Belize’s Barrier Reef Reserve World Heritage Site being demoted to a list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

It was noted by the representatives that Government will be asked to develop a timeline or “Desired State of Conservation” stating when corrective actions will be taken. The Coalition has pointed out that the Government can take immediate actions as it relates to oil.

The Coalition calls on Government to take immediate actions regarding oil exploration in the offshore to avoid Belize remaining on the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger or worse yet, being delisted as a World Heritage Site.

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