Belize is home to spectacular biodiversity on land and at sea. In fact, the Belize Barrier Reef is home to nearly 1,400 species, from endangered hawksbill turtles to West Indian manatees, sting rays, coral, and six threatened species of sharks. The reef works together with mangrove forests and seagrass beds to provide services for both nature and people.
But climate change and human activities are increasingly impacting these habitats and the accelerated degradation of critical coastal ecosystems is jeopardizing the resilience, adaptive capacity, and biodiversity of these systems. With security on the line for hundreds of thousands of people in Belize, it’s time to appropriately value the contributions made by mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrass. Failing to do so can lead to the loss of goods and services that communities depend upon such as coastal protection, food, recreation, and carbon sequestration.
One way that Belize is recognizing the important role these ecosystems play is by moving forward to include them as nature-based solutions in its 2020 Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Paris Climate Agreement. Given the unique role of coastal ecosystems in reducing climate risk impacts and absorbing carbon, combined with adaptation benefits, Belize is demonstrating real leadership in committing to safeguarding these important habitats for the long-term.