(Photo: businessinsider.com)

Barbados looks to blue economy as economic driver

(Photo: businessinsider.com)

A Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy-commissioned study in Barbados has recommended that the blue economy should feature strongly as an economic driver that can contribute to job creation and new technological advancements in that country.

The study — ‘Blue Economy Scoping Study’ — was the undertaking of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) over a six-month period.

The Port of Bridgetown’s fishing dock (File photo)

Its key findings highlighted five key ocean-based activities that would be most beneficial for the country — tourism and leisure; harvesting of marine living resources, including fisheries; the ports and shipping; the extraction of non-living resources and energy generation; and ocean health and ecosystem services.

In particular, the study identified tourism as the most significant contributor to economic activity, registering a 12.9 per cent share in Barbados’ gross domestic product and 62.1 per cent of its exports.

According to Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, the study will play a “great” role in the foundational work of developing Barbados’ blue economy.

Barbados Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey and FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for the Caribbean Renata Clarke exchange documents following the signing of an agreement for the Sustainable Fish Value Chains for Small Island Developing States (SVC4SIDS) project last Wednesday, November 18, 2020. (Photo: C Pitt/BGIS)

An ‘extremely expensive’ undertaking

However, he noted that when it came to investments in the blue economy, it was “extremely expensive” for small island developing states.

“I heard that there is money around, but accessing those resources is extremely difficult for small island developing states. You are in competition with the Pacific, you are in competition with Africa, and we all need the resources, but oftentimes Caribbean islands are not the ones coming out successful in these projects,” the minister pointed out.

Notwithstanding, Humphrey said countries like Barbados need to reinvent themselves and reimagine the space in which they live. 

Moreover, he stressed that people still need to familiarise themselves with the concept of the blue economy and all that it encompasses.

Roadmap for a blue economy

Like Humphrey, head of the Blue Economy Accelerator Lab at the UNDP, Nikola Simpson, said the study acted as a baseline to further inform future and more in-depth studies, such as the Inter-American Development Bank’s long-term strategy and road map.

An aerial view of the Port of Bridgetown. The ‘Blue Economy Scoping Study’ identified port and shipping as a key economic activity of the sector in Barbados (Photo Cruise Mapper)

In addition, she said the report outlined where needs and gaps were, and recommendations for opportunities for blue growth in Barbados.

Simpson recommended, though, that Barbados could develop its blue economy on a phased basis, beginning with upgrades to existing and mature areas using technology and tourism, or ports and shipping.

“We can also further support growth areas such as fishing, and again some of this has started, [but] more of this can be done in the short to medium term,” the UNDP representative shared.

Meanwhile, she suggested that exploring new and emerging areas could fall under a long-term goal with a 15 to 20-year horizon such as the establishment of a Blue Economy Advisory Committee and the creation of a national ocean policy.