6 Ensure environmental sustainability

Where we are

 Photo: Environment and Sustainable Development, UNDP, 2011.
Photo: Environment and Sustainable Development, UNDP, 2011.

2012 Update


Belize has made significant strides in the stewardship of its natural resources to ensure that it continues to be the source of economic growth and social progress. It has succeeded in bringing clean water to multiple communities and in increasing the share of population benefitting from an improved water source. However, progress in access to sanitation facilities has been slower.



The enabling environment for responsible resources management has been significantly strengthened and bolstered by a number of public policy instruments that guide the continued, sustainable use of Belize’s natural resources; these instruments include: Horizon 2030, National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan, Land Use Policy and Integrated Planning Framework, Energy Policy, Land Management Program, Forest Policy, National Integrated Water Resource Act, and World Bank Policy note on Natural Resources for Climate Resilient Growth. Although the baseline information and strategies are in place, however, coordinated implementation of these policy documents will take considerable resources that exceed Government of Belize’s budget allocation capacity for these areas.

The Government of Belize has issued: (i) a moratorium on the clearance of mangroves, (ii) a national ban on bottom trawling for shrimp and (iii) a ban on the sale of coastal shoals, and lands in protected areas. It also (iv) leads the region in percentage of marine no-take zones. These initiatives demonstrate Belize’s commitment to the responsible use and conservation of the country’s natural resources. These decisions come at significant opportunity costs to the Government and people of Belize. Significant financing must be mobilised to ensure continued progress in meeting our commitments, while we continue to meet the socio-economic needs of our growing population.

Belize will reach the target of 100 per cent access to improved water source for both urban and rural communities by 2015. Official data from the SIB indicates that the share of the population with an improved water source increased from 43.6 per cent in 1995 to 76.4 per cent in 2006 and 90.3 per cent in 2010.

Belize passed a National Integrated Water Resources Act in 2011 aimed at ensuring water resource management and protection. The implementation of this Act puts Belize on target to ensure access to potable water. It also safeguards the country’s water resources ensuring that Belize can meet its development targets.  However, Since 2007 progress in sanitation has been slow. In 2009, 30 per cent of Belizeans, mostly rural dwellers, still relied on systems classified as inadequate. The coverage achieved, 70 per cent of the population, is well-below the goal of the 94.6 per cent set for 2009.



A Climate Change Office that will oversee the development of a climate change strategy for Belize that will allow for vulnerable populations to better respond and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Institutionalisation of the natural resource management components like the National Integrated Water Resources Management (NIWRA), the National Protected Areas System (NPAS), and the National Forest Policy and National Land Use Policy.

Exploring expansion of the Solid Waste Management Project beyond the Western Corridor to ensure proper disposal and management of waste.

Increasing service delivery of land management unit countrywide, to improve internal controls, safeguard files and land tenure via the implementation of the land portfolio and Land Management Program

Implementation of the strategies and recommendations outlined in the National Energy Policy Framework to set the foundation for Belize’s energy security and transformation to a low carbon economy.

Belize is a MDG’s plus country when it comes to water access. The focus is now towards ensuring that all people have access to adequate sanitation.

UNDP's work in Belize

National MDG Target Achievement


Summary Scorecard - Belize Achievements and Challenges at a Glance

Goals, Targets and Indicators



Target 2015

Progress to 2015







Target 9: Integrate the principles of sustainability






Proportion of land area covered by forest



58% (2009)


Not on track; significant policy adjustment needed.

Land area protected to maintain environment






Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions





On track – negligible emissions relative to global targets.

Consumption of ozone depleting CFCs



0.780 tons (2009


On track –base ceiling awarded Belize surpassed

GDP per unit of energy use






Kilowatt hours of consumption






Kilowatt hours of demand






Target 10: Halve population without access to water






Population with access to water source

43.8 (1995)


76.4 (2006)


On Track

Social Investment Fund Data - Urban

43.6 (1995)


99.5 (2008)


On Track

Social Investment Fund Data  - Rural



90 (2008)


On Track, with continuous improvement

Target 11: By 2020, to have achieved livelihood improvement.  Owners of their own dwelling






Population with proper sanitation facilities

41 (1995)




Slow progress

Proportion of people with access to secure tenure






Population with WC linked to sewage/septic tank







Targets for MDG7
  1. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources
  2. Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss
    • Proportion of land area covered by forest and proportion of species threatened with extinction
    • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
    • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
    • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
    • Proportion of total water resources used
    • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  3. Reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation
    • Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source
    • Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility
  4. Achieve significant improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, by 2020
    • Proportion of urban population living in slums