Economy September 13, 2016 | 4:10 pm

New report identifies key opportunities to boost growth in the Caribbean Sea while preserving its ecosystem

Washington.- In the lead up to this week’s ‘Our Ocean’conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington D.C., anew World Bank report released today examines how the transition to a ‘blueeconomy’ for Caribbean countries can not only generate growth, but also helpcountries gain greater resilience to external shocks by better preserving theocean.

“The Caribbean Sea represents a tremendous economic assetfor the region not only in terms of high value natural resources such as fishstocks, oil and gas, but also as a global hotspot for marine diversity andtourism. Maintaining ocean health is synonymous with growing ocean wealth, andfinding this balance is how we’ll be able to better invest in the Caribbeanblue economy,” said Pawan Patil, World Bank Senior Economist and co-author ofthe report.

The report ‘Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise forSustainable Growth in the Caribbean’ estimates that Caribbean waters generatedUS$407 billion in 2012, which represents more than 17 percent of Caribbean GDP,including mainland countries. Thisamount mainly comes from cargo shipped through Caribbean waters, tourism andoil and gas production. In recent years, revenues from aquaculture have risen,but declined for open sea capture fisheries.

At the same time, the promise of growth is accompanied byincreasing threats to the ocean environment. About 166 million people in theCaribbean live within 100 km of the sea. Tourists come to the region largelyfor its beautiful beaches and sea attractions, which puts tremendous pressureon the very coastal ecosystems that drive economies. About 75 percent of theregion’s coral reef is considered to be at risk from human activity and 85percent of wastewater enters the Caribbean Sea untreated.

“The report highlights the opportunities offered by theCaribbean blue economy and identifies priority areas for action that cangenerate blue growth and opportunities for all Caribbean people, while ensuringthat oceans and marine ecosystems are sustainably managed and used,” saidSophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.

The authors highlight ten principles for investments in a Caribbeanblue economy and provide a framework for policymakers to set smart policy andmeasure economic and environmental benefits. Report recommendations include ecolabels to promote sustainable fishing practices and aquaculture; offshore windsand other marine renewable energy systems; and environmentally friendly coastalhotels.

In the Eastern Caribbean, Grenada is the first country todevelop a vision for blue growth as the country’s future and has become aleader in the fight against climate change. The small Caribbean economy, alsoknown as the “Spice Island”, has successfully developed a high value seafoodexport business to the US and nearby Martinique.

“Our Prime Minister has seen how important these tourismand fishing industries are for the people of Grenada, and is committed toensuring that our oceans and environment are protected,” said Dr. Angus Friday,Grenada’s Ambassador to the United States.

Other small island states around the world such as theSeychelles and Mauritius have championed the blue economy and Eastern Caribbeancountries have adopted a regional policy and action plan in 2013, which theWorld Bank is supporting.

The report suggests key priorities to help countries movetoward a blue economy and broaden opportunities for the Caribbean people, whileimproving ocean health:

• Strengtheningregional and national policies to better coordinate and monitor coastal andocean management across sectors such as fisheries, tourism, transport, energyand environment. The Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy is a good firststep, but more needs to be done to foster integrated planning for establishinggeographical zones of sea uses and protecting ecosystems.

• Implementingsmart policies to promote a healthy, resilient and productive marineenvironment, as well as build resilient infrastructure: Maintaining coral reefsand biodiversity is critical for the sustainable development of tourism andfisheries. More climate resilient coastal and port infrastructures are alsoessential for improving connectivity and competitiveness in small islandeconomies, vulnerable to extreme weather events and natural hazards.

• Promotinginvestment in blue economy enterprises: Start-up finance with better capacityand technology development will be essential to support small blue economybusinesses and generate ‘blue jobs’.

• Raisingawareness about the blue economy: This will not only require creating theawareness and political will needed for the transition toward a blue economy,but also identifying future skill needs, and developing educational andvocational training to meet this demand.

The analysis was conducted in collaboration with keypartners including The Commonwealth Secretariat, the Organization of EasternCaribbean States and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutionsat Duke University.

Contacts:

In Washington: Christelle Chapoy (202) [email protected];

In Kingston: Gerrard ‘Gerry’ McDaniel, (876) 260-3329 /960-0459-62 (Ext. 250), [email protected]

For more information, please visithttp://bit.ly/caribbluegrowth

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