UN-Habitat’s Urban Planning and Design team visited the City of Belmopan in Belize last week in order to approve and discuss the draft new Master Plan for the city. The team, comprising of UN-Habitat’s Climate Change Planning Unit and the Urban Planning Lab was supported by experts from the Arcadis Shelter Programme.

One of the highlights of the week was the third full-day planning workshop together with local stakeholders, youth groups, students, city council representatives and community leaders, developing together a first draft of a new Masterplan of and for the city of Belmopan. In addition to that, the visit also outlined specific areas for cooperation and the identification of pilot projects in the near future. In-depth discussions and intensive visual planning exercises supported this process immensely. Especially through the participation of many diverse local stakeholders, it was possible to identify areas of concentration. Hereby, land use optimization, climate change planning, blue-green network development, city center transformation, walkability, mixed-use and quality of life came to the foreground. Concluding the day, the draft Master Plan received positive remarks from the stakeholders and city council.

Looking ahead towards implementation of the Master Plan, during the visit UN-habitat, Belmopan City Council and the Belize Association of Planners signed a ‘Cooperation Agreement’ in order to assure legal compliance with the Master Plan and review the Belize urban legal environment and identify entry points for plan implantation.

A clear success arose from the close involvement and the tirelessly dedication in which the Belmopan City Council continues to work in this partnership. Mayor Khalid Belisle who “wants to make sure that whoever occupies the office of the Mayor in 30 years is not faced with urban challenges that could have been avoided”, and further he noted that “this partnership that we have formed with UN-Habitat is crucial for our future growth and development of our city”.

As very much known for the ‘City of Promise’ and ‘The friendly green garden city’, Belmopan gains valuable attention in the urban context for the quality, size and amount of green spaces within the city.

In conclusion, the partnership between the Belmopan City Council, the inhabitants of Belmopan, Arcadis and UN-Habitat have made it possible to draft a layout for the development of a new Masterplan of Belmopan and continues to working together in participation. The official Masterplan is planned to be presented at the Caribbean Urban Forum 2017.