Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, and Australian High Commissioner, Bruce Lendon. (GP)

Barbados’ blue economy is poised to be an economic driver and has the potential to support livelihoods for all.

But, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, believes that the financing needed to make such possibilities a reality is limited and difficult to access.

This was among the issues raised by the Minister during a courtesy call with Australian High Commissioner, Bruce Lendon, in the boardroom of the Barbados Port Inc., on Thursday.

They were joined by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Sonia Foster; Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Leo Brewster, and Programme Officer for Coastal Hazards, Tsunami Unit, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, Caribbean Tsunami Information Centre (CTIC), Alison Brome.

Minister Humphrey stressed that conversations on the blue economy were filled with promises of funding, and called for them to be sustainable in a real way.

These concerns were echoed by Dr. Brewster, who noted that climate change had resulted in the degradation of Barbados’ coral reefs and coral health.

He stated that a number of measures, such as the establishment of the coral nursery lab, were being undertaken to combat the effects of climate change, along with other projects.

These include looking at the impact of ocean acidification, the impact of sea level rise and possible tsunami impacts, and the start of an ocean observation system.

Meanwhile, the High Commissioner noted that Australia was very concerned about climate change matters, and establishing new partnerships with a range of countries, including Jamaica, to support and strengthen resilience in small island developing states.

Mr. Lendon stressed that they were very conscious of the impacts of climate change around the world, and were therefore seeking to support adaptation measures, particularly in the Pacific.

However, he noted that Barbados had graduated from its official development assistance status.

During the meeting, Minister Humphrey signed a Condition of Offer for the Direct Aid Programme from the Australian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Government of Grenada to assist with their Tsunami Early Warning project.

Programme Officer, CTIC, Ms. Brome stated that the Barbados Government was fulfilling its mandate to support other member states through her organisation, although the island did not qualify for assistance.  She also noted that Barbados was not the only member state impacted by its level of development and access to funding.

She also gave the assurance that the CTIC would continue to look for opportunities through which it could partner, in an effort to bridge the gap between the technical and financial requirements.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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