A ceremony in recognition of accomplishment and commitment towards achieving a ‘Sustainable Child Friendly Municipality’ was held on Friday, March 18, 2016, at Central Park. San Pedro Town was being recognized as one of the nine municipalities in Belize that signed an agreement in 2014 to make their communities better, safer and more productive for children.
On March 15, Belize’s Ministry of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development, UNDP, and UNICEF started a nation-wide tour to acknowledge the country’s municipalities that have committed and made progress in the Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipality Initiative.
By working with the initiative, San Pedro and the other municipal authorities developed a Sustainable and Child Friendly strategy in their planning, budgeting and management. They all guarantee the rights for every young citizen to:
- Influence decisions about their city
- Express their opinion on the city they want
- Participate in family, community and social life
- Receive basic services such as health care, education and shelter
- Drink safe water and have access to proper sanitation
- Be protected from exploitation, violence and abuse
- Walk safely in the streets on their own
- Meet friends and play
- Have green spaces for plants and animals
- Live in an unpolluted environment
- Participate in cultural and social events
- Be an equal citizen of their city with access to every service, regardless of ethnic, origin, religion, income, gender or disability
San Pedro Town Mayor, Daniel Guerrero, says that the Town Council has already taken steps to improve conditions on the island for its children which include returning Central Park to its original state, removing the vendors and making improvements for children to enjoy a recreational activities at the park; discouraging the sale of liquor at any events hosted by the Town Council; organizing child-friendly events; providing a parking lot to lessen traffic congestion and looking at various ways to improve traffic conditions for the children’s safety and the construction of the Ambergris Stadium which will be built under a child-friendly status (food stalls separate from the bar area, ramps to cater for the physically challenged, bathrooms that can accommodate children) and most importantly providing a facility that will offer sports and other recreational activities for the children of Ambergris Caye.
Mayor Danny stressed that he is proud to say that San Pedro Town is the only municipality that spends more than its annual subvention it received from Central Government for child friendly activities; a budgetary breakdown has been prepared this year of areas in which these monies will be spent.
“Every sector of society has a role to play,” commented Mayor Guerrero. “Today, I take the opportunity to invite you to get on board the child friendly initiative. The safety of our children is all of our business.”
Mr. Ivan Yerovi (UNICEF Representative), Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Hon. Hugo Patt (Minister of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development)
The communities are supported and encouraged to participate in the implementation of the plan. All nine municipalities will be acknowledged along with local authorities that are working to enhance services for our communities especially for children’s well-being and safety. The work to achieve the goal of creating sustainable and child friendly municipalities is a participatory process involving all concerned stakeholders, local authorities, civil society, experts, communities and especially children and adolescents.
This initiative will help to strengthen the partnership between the Government of Belize and human rights bodies in building Child Friendly Municipalities and realizing the goal of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is a model of how local government and public participation can improve municipality governance and services for children; the municipalities and the communities, together, working to guarantee the rights of every young citizen to participate and receive services necessary for their development.
The Sustainable and Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative is a collaboration between the Ministry of Labor, Local Government & Rural Development, the Mayors Association, UNICEF, and UNDP. The nine municipalities are the cities of Belize and Belmopan and towns of Corozal, Orange Walk, San Ignacio, Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Dangriga, Punta Gorda, and San Pedro.
The participating municipalities commit to work on the following pillars: Play and leisure, Participation and Citizenship, Safety and Protection, Health and Social Services, Educational Resources, Finance and Civil Engagement. All municipalities have established a Children Advisory Body and a Municipal Steering Committee; these will identify a child budget and develop and implement a strategy to ensure knowledge of and respect for children’s human rights.
San Pedro Dance Academy performs in celebration
San Pedro High School performs Belize National Anthem