UNBELIZEABLUE: A New Documentary Film About Women-Led Conservation In Belize

by Carolee Chanona

Women have the power to become conservation leaders by taking decisions and leading—tapping into gaps and opportunities—in biodiversity conservation, and they’re doing it every day in Belize. As a new documentary film, UNBELIZEABLUE is putting a spotlight on diverse women conservation leaders in Belize striving to protect the second-largest coral reef system in the world and associated livelihoods. Like other coastal coun­tries, Bel­ize’s eco­nomy re­lies heav­ily on its mar­ine re­sources. In fact, fish­ing and mar­ine-based tour­ism sus­tain the live­li­hoods of more than 50% of the coun­try’s cit­izens. Con­sequently, the equit­able use of mar­ine re­sources is of crit­ical im­port­ance to Bel­izeans, who wish their nat­ural cap­ital to be con­served and re­in­ves­ted in a sus­tain­able way.

Striving For Balance

Interviewing Nadia Bood, Senior Program Officer of WWF Mesoamerica. Photo by UNBELIZEABLUE Facebook/Phil Karp

“But how can com­munit­ies thrive while co­ex­ist­ing with their nat­ural en­vir­on­ment? Where do we draw the line between prop­erty de­vel­op­ment and en­vir­on­mental pro­tec­tion? How does a coun­try choose between mass cruise ship tour­ism and eco-friendly overnight tour­ism? Who signs off on the tradeoff between off­shore oil ex­ploit­a­tion versus a po­ten­tial nat­ural dis­aster due to oil spills along pristine reefs? These are some of the crit­ical ques­tions and chal­lenges that will be ex­plored in the film.”


Photos via UNBELIZEABLUE Facebook/Phil Karp

With re­gards to the film’s char­ac­ters, Bel­ize has the unique dis­tinc­tion that vir­tu­ally all its local and in­ter­na­tional NGOs are led by wo­men, as are key gov­ern­ment de­part­ments as­so­ci­ated with the pro­tec­tion of mar­ine re­sources. This ap­pears to be a mul­ti­gen­er­a­tional phe­nomenon where a group of wo­men pi­on­eers opened the door for the next gen­er­a­tion of fe­male con­ser­va­tion lead­ers, who are in turn boost­ing a newer gen­er­a­tion to be­gin mak­ing their voices heard. Show­cas­ing these wo­men lead­ers and their stor­ies will be the main plot­line of UN­BEL­IZE­ABLUE.

UNBELIZEABLUE Production Crew. From left to right, Eladio Arvelo, Kimberly Bowman, Brenda K Berman, Philip Karp, Shareef Haq, and Nyasha Laing. Image via
Eclectic Aspirations LLC

For local knowledge, the group is collaborating with Belizean film company Feste Films.

“Feste Films is known for its support to environmental efforts in Belize, so we are pleased to be working with Eclectic Aspirations. We are coming together to tell the stories of remarkable conservation efforts led by remarkable women,” stated Feste Films Co-Director, Kimberly Bowman, who serves as Belizean Production Manager for this third filming trip.

Header image shows Jolie Pollard, Founder and Creator of IKOOMA, being interviewed. Image via UNBELIZEABLUE Facebook/Phil Karp. All other images via UNBELIZEABLUE Facebook/Phil Karp. Source: Eclectic Aspirations LLC

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