THE OCEAN is a part of everyday life in the Caribbean, and with the right environment it can also be a driver of the region’s future. This was the overarching sentiment at the first donor roundtable of the “Harnessing Blue Economy Finance for SIDS Recovery and Sustainable Development”.
It is a joint programme, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Resident Co-ordinator Office (RCO) under the SDG Joint Fund, held on October 21,2021, a UNDP release states.
This session was designed to engage key players in the region to envision the future of the Blue Economy with adequate access to public, private and innovative financing options. Speaking to the potential impacts of leveraging the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy of Barbados stated, “We must turn around and face the ocean and recognise that the opportunities that we need lie in the ocean transport, energy, fisheries and more.” Supporting this view and further reinforcing the ocean’s role as an economic driver for recovery, this country’s Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Sustainable Development and Culture, Carlos James noted that “The development of the blue economy is a critical part of our national, and by extension, regional recovery strategies”.
And Yolande Bain-Horsford, Minister for Sports, Culture and the Arts, Fisheries and Co-operatives of Grenada, sought to quantify the expansive resource represented by the Blue Economy and encouraged collaboration to sustainably reap the rewards. She expressed that every aspect of the economies of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS),can be considered as linked to the maritime sphere, and Grenada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the sea is 75 times its land mass. “The task of sustainably developing the Blue Economy requires an interdisciplinary and cross-governmental approach,” she said.
The Joint Programme is supporting three Eastern Caribbean countries: Barbados, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines in the development of an enabling environment for the financing of the Blue Economy, through the identification of policy and regulation gaps and the definition of specific financing mechanisms for Blue Economy initiatives to achieve resilient growth.
Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean explained that: “Over the coming year UNDP, UNEP and FAO will work collaboratively to strengthen public and private sector co-operation and to catalyse innovative financing for the Blue Economy. Specifically, this joint programme will support the development of integrated national financing frameworks in each of the three countries, reflecting national priorities and tailored to country contexts, but with the aim of replicability further afield in the region.”
The project, which began in August 2020 will run for 24 months concluding in July 2022, and is a key joint project, ranked as a critical facet of the UN Reform in the portfolio of the UN Development System in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. For Small Island Developing States, the Blue Economy is fundamental to realising the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) agenda as it offers social and environmental benefits that are financially sustainable, climate-resilient and tailored to meeting local stakeholders’ needs.
At this time when existential threats like COVID-19 and climate change are impacting the region, it is vital that developmental efforts reinforce the need for regional resilience and building forward better, the release notes. This Joint Programme is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the “Blue Economy for Green Islands” vision. As the Caribbean continues to seek solutions to support vulnerable groups, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and building resilient communities that can withstand shocks and crises.