The Great Blue Hole is a large submarine sinkhole off the coast of Belize. Photo Credit: W. Ebiko/Getty Images. Video: The Nature ConservancyEnvironment Belize
Deal Worth Making: Less Debt in Exchange for More Marine Conservation
Belize becomes the latest country to benefit from a debt restructure through a marine conservation program – helping the economy, the population, and the climate-vulnerable barrier reef.
“We have a responsibility to the planet and future generations to try to conserve as much as we can,” states Prime Minister Juan Antonio Briceño. “That’s why this is so exciting: we can show that conservation is good business and that it can have a direct impact on the people most affected by climate change.”
The Blue Bonds for Ocean Conservation program will help slim down Belize’s debt as long as the nation commits to protecting at least 30% of its marine territory which includes the Hol Chan Marine Reserve where sea turtles, spotted eagle rays, rainbow parrotfish, nurse sharks, and coral crabs inhabit the healthy coral. Belize’s 386-kilometer coastline is home to the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere, more than 500 kinds of fish, and three species of threatened sea turtles. Global investment bank Credit Suisse and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation helped restructure $553 million of Belize’s debt – reducing the principal by $250 million – and over the next 20 years, thanks to the savings made on its new and more favorably termed loan, the country should generate $180 million to support in-country marine conservation.