Belize faces unprecedented stress from climate change, rapid urbanization and real estate development, unsustainable tourism, and lack of infrastructure. Erosion, sea level rise, sedimentation are displacing communities and jobs. Livelihoods of those who depend on the reef are threatened. And the Mesoamerican Reef, second largest to the Great Barrier Reef, and the natural capital of sea grasses and mangroves and other irreplaceable ecosystems in Belize are under threat from increasingly poor water quality, rising sea temperatures, reclamation, and overuse.
On May 4 - May 5, 2022, Associate Director, Johanna Lovecchio facilitated an Action Design Workshop in Belize City in support of the Resilient Reefs Initiative partnership. Led by Chief Resilience Officer, Kalene Eck, at the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute and key program partners at the Belize Department of Fisheries and Belize Ministry of the Blue Economy, the program is supported by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and knowledge network partners.
The workshop brought together key stakeholders, community organizers, national agencies, marine park managers, tourism operators, and NGO's to refine actions and approaches in support of a Resilience Strategy in two key thematic areas: Community & Livelihoods and Watersheds & Ecology. Tangible projects were outlined and identified that support capacity-building and apprenticeships for local livelihoods and villages, adaptive and coordinated watershed management, and nation-wide monitoring platform that coordinates and standardizes water quality monitoring and impacts across the NGO, academic, citizen scientist, and government communities.
Congratulations to all the GSAPP Urban Design students graduating this week - we are so proud of their work and exciting to bring together our partners through the Resilient Reefs Initiative Belize!
We began studio with a week-long workshop during which we engaged directly with local officials from the Belizean Government, advocates from local and international NGOs, and students and faculty from the University of Belize to identify key issues as well as community strengths. We ended with a final review that brought local stakeholders, global experts, and distinguished design faculty back together again to discuss the student work and its applications in Belize.
The studio spent a semester unpacking marine & fisheries restoration, climate mitigation, and local jobs & prosperity can combine across the system in different sites and scales. They explored positive, regenerative “ridge to roof to reef” visions for key towns, cities and farms along the coast by focusing on green-blue infrastructure, eco-tourism, ocean-based renewable energy including wind and tidal, new housing and urban typologies, coastal design & zoning and regenerative agriculture.
Check out the incredible depth of research, spatial plans, and urban design scenarios on the Studio's StoryMap: Resilient Belize, Envisioning Climate Justice for Mesoamerican Reef Communities