Minister of the Environment and National Beautification. (GP)

The time to act is now!

Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, with responsibility for the Blue and Green Economy, Adrian Forde, has called on the island’s youth to let their voices be heard as it relates to issues affecting the state and health of the island’s ocean space,

He made this call as he delivered the feature address during an event to mark the United Nations World Ocean Day at the Bagnall Point Gallery on Thursday.

The event was co-hosted by the Ministry and the United Nations Development Programme’s Accelerator Lab in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Export Barbados, BARNUFO, Blue Shell Productions and other partners.

“As practitioners, … it is important that all our voices are heard as we come together to create change at the individual level, at the community level and therefore expand to the national level.

“We must start with those who hold this world’s future in their hands.  That is the next generation.  That is why the youth must be active players,” he said.

Mr. Forde also called for Barbadians to put their hands to the plough and bring about change, as ocean pollution was a problem for small island developing states.

He warned that actions on land affected the ocean, and that it would not escape the vagaries of climate change and natural disasters as was evidenced with sea level rise, ocean acidification, excess nutrients and influxes of Sargassum seaweed due to global warming.

Noting that these were problematic, Mr. Forde said the answers to the challenges faced by the blue economy can be found with the right initiatives in the ocean.

He outlined initiatives such as the removal of carbon dioxide and the revitalisation of the coral reef, which would ensure the sustainability of the flora beneath the ocean’s surface and the ability of parrot fish to restore depleting sand on beaches as examples of ocean-based solutions.

Mr. Forde also noted that sustainable livelihoods could be achieved from ocean activities, such as fishing, which allowed for the growth and development of people across the various sectors in Barbados.

Newly appointed Resident Representative of the UNDP in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Limya Eltayeb, also noted that the degradation that occurred in the ocean space warranted a call for action.

“That change has to start from in this room. Our pace of action and the way we do things cannot be at a normal pace,” she said, stressing there was a need to accelerate action and find new solutions.

Ms. Eltayeb told those present that the ocean could provide many opportunities, including the Sargassum seaweed, which could be used to create new ocean industries, and new sources of energy. But, she stressed, it could not be done without private sector involvement and Government policy.

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