Belize First National Workshop Launches Local Level Planning Exercises

A team from the I2UD convened in Belize for three weeks in May in order to lead introductory training modules on urban planning. The workshops are the first in a series of workshops for local officials and community members in Belize, as part of the I2UD’s ongoing assistance to seven town councils as they each draft Municipal Development Plans.

A National Workshop kicked off the trainings, bringing the members of each town’s Local Planning Working Group (LPWG) together to discuss the project’s goals, the overall training strategy, the benefits of municipal development planning, and key urban-related issues in each municipality. The Workshop was an opportunity for municipal officials and community members to connect with central government agencies and departments, as well as each other. Following the one-day Workshop, the team conducted training workshops with clusters of municipalities to expand on topics such as assessing existing municipal conditions and conducting public consultations. Follow-up working sessions with individual municipalities were an opportunity to work one-on-one with municipal officials and personalize the capacity-building program to the needs of each LPWG.

The Local Planning Working Groups’ work on the Municipal Development Plans represents a shift in the prevailing planning practice in Belize. Currently, municipal planning is undertaken by the central government; however, a draft piece of legislation entitled theMunicipal Government Act will devolve planning functions to the municipal level, including land use planning, urban infrastructure delivery, tourism promotion and related public consultations. I2UD is conducting these training modules with assistance from the Belize Social Development Fund and the World Bank to prepare municipalities for devolution of these responsibilities.

The team is composed of Jim Kostaras, Elda Solloso, John McGill, Belize-based experts Marion Cayetano and Jan Meerman; and team leader John Driscoll.