Caribbean
Balize's famous Blue Hole (Flickr)

BZ - Nature And People Positive Solutions: The Nature Conservancy In Belize

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has a storied history of local, regional, and global environmental protection and conservation efforts centered on sound principles and comprehensive solutions. Since 1951, TNC has used a collaborative approach that engages communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners to combat some of our world’s toughest challenges like climate change and food and water sustainability.

TNC’s mission is centered on the fact that all life is connected and supported by land and water and, when these resources benefit, so do people. This duality of purpose in focusing on solutions that benefit nature and people alike, separates TNC from many other environmentally focused groups. Without a doubt, this has been key to TNC’s successes in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partnership.

Recently, Tracy—my wife and a member of the Tennessee TNC Board—and I traveled to the eastern coast of Central America to visit the on-the-ground team leading TNC’s Belize chapter. This chapter has played an active role in protecting the country’s vital ecosystems for 31 years and, more recently, the country’s economy.

Always eager to immerse ourselves in the fascinating conservation work being done globally, Tracy and I jumped at the opportunity to join a Belize TNC team retreat to learn more about innovative solutions underway, from Blue Bonds to sustainable seaweed farming, and how local conservation efforts in Belize are indeed having a powerful global impact. Here are some of the remarkable and eye-opening things we learned over our two-day visit:

Belize Blue Bonds

In the last two years, TNC negotiated the largest debt restructuring for marine conservation that the world has ever seen. Impressively, TNC initiated economic pathways that further conservation efforts while reducing Belize’s national debt. These are truly nature and people positive solutions to climate change—leveraging nature to build a stronger national economy.

One of the most impressive of these is the recent incorporation of “Belize Blue Bonds,” a restructuring of $553 million dollars of debt that will result in $180 million in cash flow for marine conservation over the next 20 years. In exchange, the government of Belize has committed to protecting 30% of its oceans, improving management of its coastal and marine resources through a marine spatial plan, and strengthening environmental protection laws.

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