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What we have lost and cannot become: Societal outcomes of coastal erosion in southern Belize

Marianne Karlsson, Bob van Oort, Bård Romstad

Countries in the Caribbean region, including Belize, are vulnerable to coastal erosion. Experts and scholars have assessed the effects of coastal erosion in the region in physical and economic terms, most often from a sectoral perspective. However, less attention has been directed to the localized and nonquantifiable effects of coastal erosion in the region. We address this research gap by presenting an empirical study of a village in southern Belize that has experienced significant coastal erosion since the mid-1980s. Drawing on interviews, a mapping exercise, and a literature review, we analyze how villagers are experiencing the impacts of coastal change, and what the resulting risks and losses mean for the socioeconomic stability of the village. We identify five categories of local values affected by coastal erosion, ranging from alteration of social activities to the loss of properties. We demonstrate that the totality of impacts bear consequences to the village’s continued viability, which adds uncertainty to the lives of local residents.

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