Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey. (FP)

Barbados is being positioned to become a global hub for climate resilience and ocean innovation.

Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, said his Ministry’s vision was “to sustainably leverage the ocean…as a natural resource and provide the required supportive policy development and physical infrastructure to stimulate economic growth and better protect oceans and coastal space and marine life”.

He made these comments while addressing the topic of Ocean and Biodiversity in the run-up to COP26 during the global meeting for UNCTAD-15 held under the theme: Harnessing the Benefits of the Ocean Economy for Sustainable Development, on Wednesday.

Barbados joins 15 other “champion countries” that have stepped forward to take the lead under the Commonwealth Blue Charter to mobilise action groups to tackle some of the world’s most pressing ocean challenges.

Mr. Humphrey added that Barbados was ready to be a campus and a hub for the world’s leading funds, researchers, scientists, designers, technologists, media entities and entrepreneurs to focus on the ocean.

“We are ready to position the island as a global platform for sustainable projects, policies, innovations, and solutions that need to be scaled up and offered digitally to the globe,” the Minister said.

He explained that Barbados’ ocean space was 424 times the size of its land space, and there was much opportunity beyond the areas of national jurisdiction.

He added that a sustainable ocean economy also had the potential to transform the lives of communities as studies have shown that there was value in keeping turtles and fish alive.

“That is why the idea of protecting 30 per cent of the ocean resonates with me and this country,” Mr. Humphrey stated, noting that the ocean was valuable and must be safe guarded for future generations.

However, the Minister told the global grouping that Barbados was “open for business” and excited about exploring partnerships with like-minded governments, multilateral organisations and non-governmental organisations to offerpolicy that could contribute meaningfully to the lives of other people.

During his address, Mr. Humphrey cautioned that a monoculture, be it sugar, manufacturing or tourism, would not work going forward as such approaches had failed the region in the past.

“We must build out our ocean economy as a fundamental plank of economic diversification. We must look at the ocean as a platform for a new wave of jobs, business opportunities, ocean food, ocean logistics and transportation. We cannot do what we have done.  We must build back differently and while we bounce back, we also have to bounce forward,” the Minister stated.

He stressed that whether it be as small island developing states, or big ocean developing states, there was a need for the correct policy environment and infrastructure to ensure a sustainable blue economy.

Mr. Humphrey further stated that investment into the blue economy must be seen as a priority, as well as improving the business environment, thereby making it easier to do business.

“That is why we are making it easier to do business and improve trade across borders. We must strengthen our institutions. As we move forward, we must look at new ways of doing things…. We must focus on resources. Physical capital development is also important…. We need inclusivity,” the Minister pointed out.  

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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