Belize is a Leader in Sustainability
The United Nations defined “sustainability” as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Sustainability has become a popular buzzword in both the tourism and real estate industries. That said there are countries that take more action when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability. Countries, like Belize, have programs in place to help protect the environment, and culture and reduce the ecological impact. Belize is leading the way when it comes to environmental policies and sustainability (according to Forbes).
Many countries in the region of Caribbean & Central America depend on tourism dollars as their primary source of income and GDP. Belize is a country that has a lot of its economy centered around tourism. Much of the tourism to Belize is around the country’s natural ecosystem including the Belize Barrier Reef & lush Rainforest Jungles. Preserving the environment of Belize is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good economic sense based on the country’s tourism sector.
Belize is located in Central America on the Caribbean side, just south of Mexico (below the Yucatan Peninsula) because of this, Belize has a decidedly Caribbean feel and culture. The geographical location and Caribbean Culture (also being English Speaking)is appealing to visitors and tourists who want to go snorkeling, diving, and fishing in some of the most beautiful water in the world and along the world’s largest living reef. Belize is home to the second-largest barrier reef in the world (the largest living reef). It has a plethora of islands off the coast, including Ambergris Caye (the largest island and most popular destination in Belize) with rainforests blanketing the mainland.
With the environment being a large tourism driver, Belize has set up several programs to not only attract travelers but to protect the land and its ecosystem.
For example, Belize has put in programs to protect endangered species such as the Jaguar, also partnering with the Maya Forest Corridor, protecting landscapes from Belize’s Maya Mountains, through the tri-national Maya forest. This region which consists of Belize, Mexico, and Guatemala is the most extensive continuous stretch of jungle in Central America.
More than 70% of Belize is forested, these lush rainforests make the Belize jungle a mecca for wildlife. Belize has also dedicated that 46% of the country is protected National Park & Marine Reserve. Because of this, Belize has over a hundred protected areas, both on land and around the reef.
Belize is also at the forefront of leading cultural sustainability, with efforts to support local community tourism so travelers can engage with and learn about the local Mayan & Garifuna cultures. Belize has a rich history filled with cultural diversity. The plethora of Mayan Temples are all protected and are a key part of Belizean Heritage.
Sustainability of the Reef & Ocean
The Belize Barrier Reef is the country’s largest attraction and something natural to the region. Because of this, Belize is very active in preserving the water and coastline. There are a number of protected areas and Marine Reserves (including Hol Chan and the popular Attols). Belize has also banned all commercial fishing from its water, as well as banned commercial drilling from the coastline.
The waters and reefs along the East Coast of Belize and extending the entire coastline host a diverse variety of marine life, from sting rays, manatees, sea turtles, and colorful corals. The Belize Barrier Reef draws scuba divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and water enthusiasts from all over the world. Belize has a reef protection and sustainable tourism program to go along with the “Blue Economy Initiative“, these programs include a new diving site where divers can explore the marine life and waters while reducing strain on these radiant reefs and eco-systems.
Belize has put in place a law and moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling in the entirety of Belizean waters. The reef is an integral part of many Belizeans’ livelihoods, whether in the fishing industry or tourism industry, and preserving that water is a key sustainability effort.
Belize also has the Fish Right, Eat Right program which has a commitment to sustainable seafood. The program was created to control illegal fishing and promote best practices in fisheries. Many restaurants, especially in Ambergris Caye, have signed up for the program and have been sourcing seafood responsibly and through local vendors. The program initially targeted restaurants and hotels but is slated to include cooperatives, fish markets, supermarkets, and other seafood purveyors within Belize.
Belize Sustainability Programs
Ecotourism thrives in Belize with environmental activities, including hiking to waterfalls, horseback riding, ziplining through the canopies, and visiting wildlife sanctuaries. Belize is known to be a culinary destination and is actually devoid of chain restaurants, with locally produced food and popular local restaurants, travelers can enjoy the food and Belizean culture.
Recently, eco-resorts in Belize have become increasingly popular as they prioritize sustainability as their basis in all things they do.