Barbados is striving as a climate leader and has proven its commitment through its updated NDC and now as part of its journey for a more ambitious sustainable economic development, the country has approved and begun to implement a Blue Economy Roadmap.
The journey of the Blue Economy Roadmap which is an integrated Blue Economy policy framework and strategic action plan started with pivotal incremental steps, which included (i) the creation of the first ever ministry dedicated to the development of the Blue Economy, (ii) the development of an overarching development vision, the Roofs to Reefs Program, in which the tenets of the Blue Economy are embedded; and (iii) the updated Barbados’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the obligations of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The importance of the ocean or blue space of Barbados has been given its due recognition, particularly as this area is approximately 187,000 sq km, which significantly dwarfs the land mass of Barbados of 430 sq km. This physically transforms the perception of the country from a small island state to a large ocean state, with a vast array of blue natural assets, both tangible and intangible, many of which are yet to be valued and appreciated. Recognizing this asset and potential of the marine and ocean space is only the first step towards a radical transformation of the economy and the next logical and required step was to lay out a clear, concise pathway to sustainably develop and manage its components.
The establishment of the Blue Economy Roadmap lays out the metaphorical footprints in the beach sand that show the steps the country will follow towards the attainment of a sustainable and resilient Blue Economy.
There are three key touchpoints of the Blue Economy Roadmap that should be highlighted, which are:
- it is based on the three pillars of sustainability (environment, social and economic), all interwoven and equally considered so as to result in balanced outcomes. The principle of inclusive and distributive economic growth within the limits of ocean and marine ecosystems is the primary overarching factor.
- It identifies priority sectors for development – marine energy, tourism, maritime transportation, fisheries, marine biotechnology and maritime services.
- Follows established Blue Economy Principles – evidence based decision-making; multi-scalar polycentric governance networks; transparency, accountability and inclusiveness.
Implementation of the Roadmap will be based on strong inter-governmental coordination and partnerships with non-government organizations, the private sector, civil society and international partners (and broad-based engagement with the Barbadian citizenry). The enabling environment for this implementation will be based on a strong digital platform, policy support, innovative financing instruments, international blue financing readiness, sustainable certification and market development and mitigation risks and challenges.
Mitigating risks and challenges to the process of transition to a Blue Economy will require strengthened resilience to the impacts of climate change, as it continues to be an existential threat to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). There is a growing global recognition of the important role that the Blue Economy can play in addressing climate change. Evidence of this position was highlighted in a recent statement from global leaders of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy at the recently concluded Climate Change Conference (COP 26), where they indicated that “… a sustainable ocean economy can play an essential role in closing the emissions gap, while providing jobs, reducing inequality, supporting food security, sustaining biological diversity, and enhancing resilience.”
There is quite a bit to be done by countries to achieve a sustainable Blue Economy but Barbados as it has transitioned to a republic, is also showing the way with the development and implementation of its Blue Economy Roadmap.
Photo: Gerard Alleng