A report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) named Antigua and Barbuda as one of two Caribbean countries seen as ‘well prepared’ to pursue the development of sustainable blue economies.
According to the report, targeted assessments carried out in Trinidad and Tobago as well as Antigua and Barbuda, show that these countries are well prepared to pursue the development of sustainable blue economies, while also facing a range of untapped opportunities and challenges.
The report is from a project carried out by the Commonwealth Secretariat, last year, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Howell Marine Consulting and the University of Portsmouth, after assessing the readiness of each government to shift to a sustainable blue economy.
In making this transition, countries can draw on ocean resources for economic development, while also effectively protecting the marine environment.
A new ‘Rapid Readiness Assessment’ (RRA) method was trialed, based on UNEP’s Sustainable Blue Economy Transition Framework. The RRA provides governments with a focused snapshot of where to go next, informed by desk-based analysis, in-country stakeholder workshops and interviews.
According to the report in Antigua and Barbuda, the government has begun the transition, recognising the benefits of a sustainable blue economy for economic and climate resilience. Existing political support has led to the development of the draft National Ocean Policy, which is currently pending revision and endorsement by the Cabinet.
The RRA found that while the country’s legislative and policy environment are robust, a shared understanding is needed among all stakeholders of what a sustainable blue economy means in order to support collaborative approaches. Marine spatial planning was recommended, as well as enhanced coordination between various bodies and government agencies.
Ann-Louise Hill, from Antigua and Barbuda’s Department of Blue Economy, noted: “Fully transitioning to a sustainable blue economy is not straightforward, but as the Rapid Readiness Assessment demonstrates, it is worth the effort. Antigua and Barbuda must forge its own path, informed by the most effective practices and best available knowledge, while also accounting for the country’s unique history, culture and circumstances. The people of Antigua and Barbuda must be informed and engaged at every step of the way.”
The Rapid Readiness Assessments provide a high-level snapshot of a country’s existing ocean-based economy landscape and opportunities, with a view to establishing a unique blue transition pathway.