Enhancing Belize’s resilience to adapt to the effects of climate change

Enhancing Belize’s resilience to adapt to the effects of climate change

At a glance

Completed programmes
Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, National Emergency Management Organisation, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Countries involved
Total budget
3,20 M€
GCCA priority area(s)
Effects of climate change on the region

Belize’s economy, like that of all Caribbean low-lying coastal countries, is based on agriculture, fishing, timber, and tourism industries. Belize has been prone to cyclical hurricane damage, tidal wave, floods and wind damage, which have affected agriculture, property and infrastructure, and devastated the economy. During the last 75 years, 21 tropical storms have been recorded in Belize. One out of every three storms has been a hurricane of category 3 severity, and the incidence of those extreme events has increased in recent years.

A rise in sea level threatens potential consequences such as coastal erosion and land loss, flooding, soil salinisation, and intrusion of saltwater into groundwater aquifers. The quantity and quality of available water supplies can affect agricultural production and human health. Similarly, changes in sea surface temperature and ocean circulation could affect marine organisms including corals, sea grasses, and fish stocks.

In 2009, the Government of Belize adopted a National Integrated Water Management Policy and a National Adaptation Strategy to address climate change in the water sector. The strategy provides a solid foundation for mainstreaming climate change into the sector.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
3,200,000.00 €
Specific objectives

Improve the resilience to climate change by means of interventions in the water sector which are consistent with other ongoing initiatives.

Enhance the institutional capacities of the Government of Belize in relation to climate change. One of the aims is to provide support for the establishment of a permanent climate change office within the Ministry of Natural Resources that will provide economic, social and environmental expertise.

Key achievements
  • NIWRA has taken steps towards its institutionalization before it is fully functional.

  • In parallel, studies are being undertaken to improve knowledge on groundwater resources and the preparation of a Master Plan for integrated water management.

  • Activities related to the capacity building to coordinate a national response to the threats of climate change have also started. These include undertaking integrated vulnerability and adaptation assessments, with focus on agriculture, tourism, fisheries, coastal development, water and health sectors, aimed at the development of national adaptation response strategies.

  • With the support of national authorities and NGOs, five pilot projects have been launched:

    • Building Resilient Communities – Preparing Communities to Effectively Mitigate the Impact of Hazards Associated with their Changing Climate (National Emergency Management Organization - NEMO)
    • Social Partnership in Adaptation as a Means of Securing Community Wellbeing (Southern Environmental Association)
    • Climate Change and Food Security: Building Resilience among Cattle Producers of Belize District (Ministry of Agriculture)
    • Accelerating Potable Water Coverage: Piloting Innovative Solutions in Securing Local Water Supply Sources (Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development & NEMO)
    • Applied Forest Management: “Building Capacities for the Restoration of Watersheds Impacted by Natural Disasters” (Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development)
  • Pilots offer excellent scaling-up opportunities. For instance, one challenge one of the pilots is seeking to address is to secure better engagement from the Ministry of Education with its educational component.  Specifically, the pilot is lobbying for the “Belize Marvelous Mangroves Curriculum” and the “Mangrove Restoration Guide” to be endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, for inclusion in Belize’s school curricula.

Main activities per result

The resilience of the water sector to potential climate change impacts is increased.

Support will be provided to the institutionalization of the National Integrated Water Resources Authority (NIWRA) within the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MNRE). To this effect: (i) Technical assistance will be provided to the newly established NIWRA, in support of institutional development and financial sustainability. (ii) By-laws and regulations necessary for enabling action by the NIWRA will be elaborated and enforced, in line with the new policy and strategy. (iii) National water resources vulnerability profiles and associated water safety plans will be prepared. (iv) A water resource assessment will be conducted to inform a master plan for integrated water management.

A pilot project entitled ‘Climate change and food security: building resilience among cattle producers of the Belize District’ will be implemented. Another project will look at ways of guaranteeing a sustainable supply of water and dealing with poor water quality. Adaptation to floods will be improved by the introduction of appropriate watershed management measures. Lastly, for the mitigation of the negative effects of soil erosion, land use management and replanting of damaged forests in strategic locations will be considered.

National capacities to plan for and to coordinate a national response to the threats of climate change are enhanced.

Support will be provided for the installation of a climate change office within the MNRE. Existing national climate change actors, roles and capacities will be mapped. An organisational framework supporting national climate change governance will be developed and proposed for national endorsement.

A campaign will be implemented to support decision makers at different levels in improving their knowledge and skills in relation to climate change adaptation and mitigation. In the field of climate change education, training and public awareness, public officers and civil society representatives will be given opportunities for training/capacity development.

The development of a comprehensive national climate change policy will be supported.

Belize’s transition toward a low-carbon development pathway will be facilitated, primarily through the provision of training sessions and workshops in relation to the use of a low-carbon growth modelling framework for planning purposes.

Challenges and lessons learned (selected)

Projects recognize the benefits of the integration of project work programmes into national departmental annual plans. This approach has proven very good for national ownership and sustainability of efforts.

Way forward (selected)
  • Scaling-up: the partnership with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center (CCCCC) has offered excellent opportunities to multiply the effects of the project as well as to scale up interventions. The project is coordinating with the CCCCC on education and socialization actions, the development of sector strategies, the finalization of a comprehensive national policy and action plan on climate change and in capacity development for the national climate change office. 

  • Coordination: structures established through GCCA investments now work to support coordination of national portfolios. A key example of this is the National Climate change Office which works to coordinate all ongoing climate change initiatives.


"Development is not sustainable if it damages the environment, biodiversity and natural resources, and increases exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters. EU development policy should promote a green economy that can generate growth, create jobs, and help reduce poverty by valuing and investing in natural capital, including to support market opportunities for cleaner technologies, energy and resource efficiency, local development while stimulating innovation, the use of ICT, and reducing unsustainable use of natural resources. It should continue to improve the resilience of developing countries to the consequences of climate change.”

Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of EU Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Cayman Islands