CBR
search
Economy

(Photo: The Belize Herald)

Regional collaboration needed to unlock the potential of the blue economy

Dr Justin Ram, director of economics at the Caribbean Development Bank, believes the creation of a “single regional statistical agency makes sense”.

(Photo: The Belize Herald)

A collaborative approach is needed across the Caribbean to unlock the benefits of the blue economy, as well to address the challenges of scale and size, experts and leaders attending Blue Economy Caribbean 2019 advocated.

The event took place in Miami, Florida, on October 15, sponsored by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in partnership with the Government of Canada.

A fisherman lowers his net. (Photo: OECS)

Blue Economy Caribbean 2019 brought together more than 100 industry stakeholders and leaders to discuss ways to enhance investment, development, research, and governance of the blue economy through collaboration. It preceded the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, which runs from October 16 to 18, in Miami.

Vice-president of operations at the Caribbean Development Bank Monica La Bennett, speaking at a session on financing the blue economy, explained that the benefits of having a “One-Caribbean” collaborative approach are twofold.

“By reducing intra-regional competition, countries can engage multinationals on stronger footing, thereby decreasing the discounts offered to attract these companies into one country versus the other. And by unifying the region and improving our economies of scale, financing and equity investment projects are made more accessible because of the combined size of regional/multi-country interventions, as opposed to single small-scale ones,” she said.

The session on financing the blue economy comprised a mix of commercial and development bankers from CDB, the Inter-American Development Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, and JPMorgan Chase Corporate and Investment Bank who shared recommendations for creating the right ecosystem for financing the sector.

“…By unifying the region and improving our economies of scale, financing and equity investment projects are made more accessible because of the combined size of regional/multi-country interventions, as opposed to single small-scale ones”

— Monica La Bennett, vice-president of operations, Monica La Bennett, Caribbean Development Bank

While addressing the short- to medium-term prospects for the sector, vice-president of Public Sector Group at JPMorgan Chase Corporate and Investment Bank, Poorvi Kunzru, emphasised that Caribbean leaders should “really put the size-scale proposal to work” by coming together to bring bankable blue economy projects “of size that the private sector can get excited about”.

William Crosbie, special consultant on the blue economy for Global Affairs Canada, reiterated the need for unity of purpose in protecting the Caribbean’s interest in the blue economy. It is important, he said, to establish common priorities and coordinate messaging to the international community on issues such as disaster risk reduction which impact blue industries.

Crosbie also called for the region’s leaders to “break down political barriers so that the region thinks more as one”.

Dr Justin Ram, director of economics, Caribbean Development Bank (Photo: CDB)

Coming out of the fora, several panellists addressed the importance of more and better data to guide policy decisions on blue economy investments. To this end, CDB’s Director of Economics Dr Justin Ram proposed that “… a single regional statistical agency makes sense”, allowing the Caribbean to “pool resources and achieve efficiencies”.

During the event, CDB also presented the results of a recent working paper that places a value on the blue economy by developing a blue economy satellite account methodology for the Caribbean.