The value of Barbados’ coastal and marine resources and their potential for investment must be taken into consideration going forward.
Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster, stated this today, during a Cost Recovery Mechanisms workshop, under the theme Transitioning to a Blue Economy through Sustainable Financing at Hilton Barbados.
“Within the Ministry of the Blue Economy, we realize that one of the first priorities must be understanding the actual value of our coastal and marine resources so that there can then be careful assessment of the potential for investment to optimize the benefits that flow to everyone who interacts with these resources, whether hotel owner, jet-ski operator, coastal cruise operator, fisherman, dive shop owner, visitor or resident,” he said.
He explained that Barbados’ coastline suffered significant damage in the early years when the island transitioned to coastal tourism as a major revenue earner, and beachfront property became valuable.
However, he stated that Government, with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, invested approximately US$40 million to correct the problems through shoreline stabilization and enhancement works.
“While we have all experienced the benefits of these works, there is an urgent need to quantify these benefits, clearly identify the beneficiaries, and develop a sustainable economic model to ensure that we are able to maintain and continue to expand the scope of these works for all Barbadians,” Dr. Brewster said.
The Director made reference to the Richard Haynes Boardwalk on the south coast, and pointed out that consideration had to be given to determining its true value and prioritizing future investment.
Cost Recovery Consultant, Dr. Peter Schumann, said Barbados had very valuable coastal and marine resources, which could be compatible with economic growth, if things were done correctly.
But, he said, it was a process that would require buy-in from society, and political will. “The movement to the Blue Economy is going to have to be a grand vision that everybody is going to have to grab hold of because it has to be immune to the political cycle,” the consultant said.
Dr. Schumann said one recommendation would be to establish a National Conservation Trust Fund to function as a non-governmental entity to collect revenue from various sources and distribute it to various conservation initiatives in the public and private sector.
“It will raise a significant and sustainable source of revenue for these initiatives and investments and coastal zone, and will generate economic returns,” he said.