Over the years the annual Natural Resource Management and Research Symposium has grown to recognition as Belize’s national symposium. 10 years has gone by since our first symposium and we are grateful for the support we’ve gotten. This year, we are aiming to maximize our impact through integration with the Yaaxche Conservation Trust’s Global Trees Symposium and inspiring speakers with loads of knowledge to contribute. See our keynote speakers below:
Hon. Omar A. Figueroa is the Minister of State with responsibility for Forestry, Fisheries, the Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Belize. He was born in 1969 in San Ignacio Town, Belize, Central America. Throughout his academic life, Dr. Figueroa was active in Conservation and Biodiversity Research. He holds a Doctorate Degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation through the Dexter Fellowship from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida and a Master’s of Science Degree in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation through a Fulbright/Organization of American States Ecology Initiative Fellowship. During his academic pursuits, his research focus was in the use of Global Positioning System to study habitat associations and movement patterns of Jabiru Stork in Mesoamerica and thereafter on the spatial ecology and conservation of the iconic Jaguar. These experiences have contributed to his vast knowledge and appreciation for the environment and conservation. Besides his academic accomplishments, Dr. Figueroa also served on the board of the Mesoamerican Society for Biology and Conservation and several local and international research initiatives. Between 2009 and 2012, Dr. Figueroa served as a member of the Senate and has been a Member of Parliament since January 2015.
Leonel joined GEF Small Grants Programme as the National Coordinator in Belize on February 15, 2016. Leonel is however not new to SGP, having previously served as the COMPACT Local Coordinator in SGP Belize during 2010-2015. Prior to joining SGP, he worked with the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT) as a Project Officer during 2007-2009. He also worked as an Associate Researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society (2005-2006) and the Nature Conservancy (2000-2004). Leonel has a Master’s degree in Protected Areas Management and Eco-regional Development. He has also received a Diploma from the Mesoamerican Reef Leadership Program in February 2013 and successfully completed the Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program at the University of California, Berkeley.
Leonel has participated in several international conferences such as the UN Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD COP11 in Hyderabad, India, and CBD COP13 in Cancun, Mexico). He has presented at conferences in Germany, Senegal, India, the United States, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Guadeloupe, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala. He has contributed to several international UNDP publications. He represents the Caribbean Region on the Young Leaders World Commission on Protected Areas. He is a trained UN Cares Facilitator. Leonel enjoys scuba diving and spelunking. Leonel can be reached at email@example.com.