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News : International Last Updated: Jun 22, 2019 - 8:58:20 AM

Belize co-champions coral reef action for Commonwealth Blue Charter
By The Commonwealth
Jun 21, 2019 - 5:10:25 PM

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‘Champion’ countries of the Commonwealth Blue Charter are laying the groundwork for joint action and robust, innovative strategies to tackle the world’s most pressing ocean issues.

Belize is one of 12 countries which has stepped forward to lead nine ‘action groups’ under the Blue Charter – a commitment made by the 53 Commonwealth member states to work together to solve ocean-related problems.

Co-championing the area of coral reef protection and restoration along with Australia and Mauritius, key government officials from Belize joined a four-day programme in London, which concluded today.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We are determined for our collective engagement on the Commonwealth Blue Charter to focus on practical action, and for our response to be guided principally by those who experience most acutely the difficulty and trauma of ocean and climate-related challenges. They will be further supported by the acuity and knowledge of all the partners we can find, with the emphasis always on action.”

Director of the Belize Fisheries Department Beverly Wade added: “Our coral reef is a big part of who we are as a people, and the action group we are co-championing with Australia and Mauritius is unique because we have representation in three major oceans – the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

“This is really an opportunity for us to encourage other countries and partners to come together and collaborate on a scalable, harmonised approach that we can then roll out to the entire Commonwealth.”

Action groups include: Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (co-led by Australia, Belize, Mauritius), Aquaculture (Cyprus), Ocean Observations (Canada), Ocean Acidification (New Zealand), Mangrove Restoration (Sri Lanka), Marine Plastic Pollution (United Kingdom, Vanuatu), Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles), Blue Economy (Kenya), and Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji).

From 18 to 21 June, delegates focused on strategies to rally members, mobilise resources for collaborative projects and boost public awareness.

A special networking day co-organised with Bloomberg Philanthropies homed in on intensifying partnerships, linking up countries with more than 50 potential partners from the private sector, academia, civil society, philanthropies and the international development community.

Finally, delegates were hosted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss priorities leading up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in June 2020.

Commonwealth Head of Oceans and Natural Resources, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford said: “The Commonwealth Blue Charter fills the gap between high level global commitments and concrete cooperation on the ground, where member countries can help, inspire, motivate, and learn from each other, in order to achieve our shared ocean goals. The All Champions meeting this week has set a roadmap to the future and we are excited to deliver on it.”

For more information, visit the Commonwealth Blue Charter website

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