In 2021, the government of Belize committed to conserve 30% of its ocean and protect the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR), the biggest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. This undertaking, part of the largest debt restructuring for marine conservation to date, could serve as a blueprint for coastal countries around the world.
The ocean contributes around $3 trillion per year to global GDP, and it is hoped that blue bonds such as this will help maintain marine biodiversity and shore up a robust blue economy. According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem."
“To build a blue economy, it is necessary to put sustainability at its center,” states the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). “An important challenge of the blue economy is to understand and better manage the many aspects of oceanic sustainability, ranging from sustainable fisheries to ecosystem health to preventing pollution…on a scale that has not been previously achieved,” adds DESA.
At this juncture, accurate and engaging media coverage will be crucial to inform the public and hold policymakers involved in marine resource management accountable to their commitments. Internews’ Earth Journalism Network is pleased to announce a new project to improve the quality and quantity of reporting on the environmental health of the MAR and Belize’s commitment to a blue economy.
This project aims to develop a network of journalists in Belize knowledgeable about sustainable marine, reef and coastal management, and to drive public debate about the blue economy among coastal communities and local, national and regional decision-makers.
Project activities to be carried out in the next year will include:
- Story grants and 1-1 mentorship to Belizean journalists who will produce ~10 high-quality, in-depth stories by July 2023;
- A training workshop for 12-15 Belizean journalists; and
- Collaborative reports produced by select Belizean media outlets, working in coordination with each other.
With support from the Summit Foundation, EJN will strengthen the capacity of local reporters, communicators and media outlets to produce and disseminate trusted information about the effects of climate change, tourism development and environmental degradation on marine ecosystems, as well as strategies for sustainable reef management and developing a healthy blue economy.
Caption: Sea fans in San Pedro, Belize / Credit: Fabrice Dudenhofer via Ocean Image Bank.