The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) green-blue economy strategy and action plan, the first of its kind in the Caribbean and globally to combine green and blue economy strategies for sustainable development, will be advanced under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in June 2019 between the Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) and the OECS Commission.
CANARI will work with the OECS to develop and implement the strategy and action plan, which will keep the OECS at the forefront of global dialogues on sustainable development in a small island context.
A green economy is one which minimizes ecosystem degradation and is low carbon, resource-efficient, and socially equitable. Within this, a blue economy focuses specifically on coastal and marine resources. In an OECS green-blue economy, growth in employment and income levels is driven by investment into economic activities, assets, and natural infrastructure which conserve biodiversity and ecosystem services that are critical to OECS countries and territories.
Director-General of the OECS Commission, Dr Didacus Jules, noted, “With limited financial, environmental and human resources, and with the devastating impacts of climate change already being felt in the Eastern Caribbean, now more than ever, the OECS needs to focus on future solutions that enable economic growth while preserving invaluable biodiversity and improving the region’s resilience to natural disasters and climate change.”
Development of the OECS green-blue economy strategy and action plan was mandated by the OECS Council of Ministers for Environmental Sustainability to build on the 2018 diagnostic study by CANARI entitled “Exploring Opportunities for Transformation to Inclusive, Sustainable and Resilient Economies in the Eastern Caribbean,” which was supported by a grant from the European Union.
Developing a clear program of policies for greening priority economic sectors and creating enabling regulatory, fiscal, and financing policies and programs which support micro, small, and medium enterprises were among the recommendations emerging from the study.
The study’s findings were highlighted in a CANARI policy brief and the Eastern Caribbean green economy barometer 2018, published by the Green Economy Coalition, the world’s largest movement for green and fair economies, for which CANARI serves as the Caribbean hub. CANARI’s current work with OECS and others in the Caribbean is being supported by the European Union.
Key government agencies and other stakeholders in OECS countries and territories will be engaged by CANARI to develop strategies and actions to capitalize on green and blue economy opportunities in the OECS that are equitable, conserve ecosystems, build resilience, and improve the lives and livelihoods of Eastern Caribbean people.
The OECS green-blue economy strategy and action plan will be presented to the OECS Economic Affairs Council and the Council of Ministers for Environmental Sustainability in early 2020. This will improve the ability of the OECS to access global funding for climate change resilience and direct foreign and local investment towards inclusive and sustainable economic activities.
The MOU runs from 2019 to 2022 and will support other ongoing work by CANARI with the OECS, including the development of a biodiversity and ecosystems management framework and action plan, a civil stakeholder engagement strategy, and a Caribbean strategy for climate resilience in the forest sector and associated livelihoods. These strategies will be enabled through joint fundraising and project development to support implementation.