EDITORIAL: Blue Economy has great potential
It has been noted that the Blue Economy has the potential to be a key driver of sustainable, much needed recovery efforts, in both Barbados and the wider Caribbean.
As such, the potential of the Blue Economy in helping governments rethink their developmental pathways and to pivot new avenues of economic growth and innovation, has been a topic of discussion. Some say there is need to move forward the Blue Economy agenda in the Caribbean and a call has even been made for a conference to be held at the level of CARICOM, to chart the way forward.
One such call came from Cletus Springer, Director of the Department of Sustainable Development in the Organisation of American States (OAS), during a webinar hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), focusing on the topic “Can the blue economy spark a sustainable and inclusive recovery in the Caribbean?” He said he would love to see a CARICOM Partnership Conference on the Blue Economy, with the participation of regional Heads of Government, the private sector, regional agencies and civil society organisations.
“If we can have such a meeting, that can generate agreement on the ability of the Blue Economy to provide the social and economic benefits that we desperately need in our post-COVID environment, a commitment to urgent adoption of the strategy for restoring, protecting and maintaining the diversity, productivity, resilience, the co-function and the inclusive values of marine eco-systems, I think that will take us a very long way towards addressing the issues,” Springer commented.
Springer however suggested that to move the Blue Economy forward, regional countries must tackle some of the barriers that have been impeding progress.
“The barriers are longstanding, there are many, they are diverse, but I believe that they stem from two key factors. I think we have the absence of a trusted and diversified knowledge base on the Blue Economy and the lack of a coordinator for developing and utilising the requisite management and development resources, that can inspire innovation in the Blue Economy,” Springer maintained.
Here in Barbados, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy for Barbados, Kirk Humphrey has acknowledged that the Blue Economy has a wealth of potential and can aid in the recovery efforts, as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pointing out that the IDB has been very helpful as a partner in assisting with a number of projects that focus on the environment and the marine space, Humphrey noted that Government is working at present with the IDB, to develop a strategic roadmap for the Blue Economy. He did acknowledge that in a post-COVID environment, his Ministry may have to go back and tweak some of the things that we were previously decided on, but the wheels on many Blue Economy projects can begin to turn, to assist the economy.
Indeed, we await further word on these Blue Economy initiatives and projects which hopefully will come to fruition soon. Clearly, we need to be creative and to bring on stream, new, innovative and non-traditional ways of doing business in that sector and the time to do so may be now.