Officials at the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU) are seeking to strengthen ties with UNESCO to capitalise on their programmes and expertise, especially for emerging marine biologists and coastal engineers.

Deputy Director of the CZMU, Dr. Lorna Inniss made this point last Saturday following a tour of the island’s coastline from the Careenage, in Bridgetown, to Port St. Charles, St. Peter. She was on board the catamaran Silver Moon accompanied by UNESCO Director General, Irina Bokova.

Addressing the media during a press briefing at Port St. Charles, Dr. Inniss described UNESCO as a body with a wealth of knowledge and technical expertise housed within collaborations and various universities and scientific organisations worldwide.

She said the international body had assisted Barbados in capacity building for ocean sciences and ocean services over the years, and with the development of major programmes that would benefit the Caribbean Sea and the North Western Atlantic.

Dr. Inniss added that Barbados was hoping to strengthen these ties so that the youth, particularly emerging marine biologists and coastal engineers, could not only participate in UNESCO programmes offered, but also take advantage of the expertise at some of their institutions.

"We have had very fruitful discussions with the Director General on programmes that would interest us to ensure that we can continue to develop our coastal and marine area sustainably," the Deputy Director said.

She explained that the trip allowed Ms. Bokova to see first-hand, Barbados’ shoreline stabilisation programme, discuss some of the conservation efforts being undertaken, and get an idea of the challenges being experienced in protecting the island’s coral reefs.

"Climate change is affecting our reefs faster than we are able to conserve them and the possibility [exists] that we may be in an era where we may be unable to keep our coral reefs in a healthy enough manner that they would be able to continue to protect our ecosystem services," Dr. Inniss said.

She cautioned that some of the changes taking place and their impact were still unclear, particularly for areas such as fisheries. "This is some of the research we are going to need to do to understand how our fisheries distribution in the Caribbean will change," she said, adding that the island’s coastal ecosystem was being constantly monitored and observed.

Also speaking during the press briefing, Ms. Bokova said from what she saw, Barbados’ coastline was subjected to the pressures of climate change, rising oceans and temperatures.

"There is the belief that there is not enough analysis and study on the impact on the oceans, on the blue economy, as it is sometimes called. What happens in the sea has more impact than we recognise," she said.

But, the Director General noted that there were a number of positive developments in Barbados in terms of strengthening and mitigating rising sea levels through the creation of stabilisation structures.

She added that Barbados’ contribution to the regional and global debate about oceans and its impact on sustainable development was very important.

Ms. Bokova said she hoped to see a much stronger collaborated with UNESCO, Barbados and the scientific community. "It is important for the region and for other regions as well. We discussed the possibility of having a more South-to-South cooperation. Small Island Developing States are under very strong pressure from this reality (climate change) which is not always positive," the Director General pointed out.

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