Minister Kirk Humphrey in conversation with (from left) Deputy Managing Director, NatureVest, The Nature Conservancy, Robert Weary; Director Eastern Caribbean Programme, Dr. Sherry Constantini; Minister Trevor Prescod; Director, External Affairs, Caribbean Programme, Eleanor Phillips; and Sr. Policy Advisor, The Nature Conservancy, Robbie Bovino.(J.Rawlins-Bentham/BGIS)

Government is stepping up its efforts to protect its marine space and the blue economy.

Such efforts include Cabinet’s approval for Barbados to become a member of the Clean Ocean Alliance and a part of the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

In addition, government is also exploring the possibility of establishing a Conservation Trust Fund for the island.

This was revealed by Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, Kirk Humphrey, during the opening session of a stakeholder sensitization workshop on Establishing a Conservation Trust Fund in Barbados at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa on Monday.

Mr. Humphrey said that the time had come for Barbados to play a role in maintaining its ocean space.

“This is important because if Barbados, like some other small island developing states, were to leave this as a secondary issue, we would find ourselves being the victims in a war that we did not start and remaining voiceless in the process,” he stated.

However, he pointed out that the island must find different and mature ways to manage, treat and finance the ocean space.  “To be able to finance it (the space) without it being a recurring cost and expenditure for the government,” he said.

Mr. Humphrey described the Conservation Trust Fund as “a good thing”, which had to be driven by this country’s interests.

He explained that the Conservation Trust Fund, if established, would comprise people who are Barbadian with Barbadian interests. The minister further noted that once established, different groups would have the funding based on the capacity to raise funds.

“Across the Caribbean, when the funds are set up, they get an endowment from the biodiversity fund of a few million [dollars], and then they raise funds from other activities. The local people will then review the process and have the say.  Government is also represented on the fund as well,” Mr. Humphrey said.

During the sensitization workshop, Director of External Affairs, Caribbean Division of The Nature Conservancy, Dr. Eleanor Phillips, explained that Conservation Trust Funds were independent, non-governmental organizations that provide grants to implement environmental conservation and management projects.

She said they raise and invest funds to make grants to non-governmental and community-based organizations and government agencies, and are also financing mechanisms rather than implementing agencies.

The fund has been established in more than 50 developing countries, with the majority of those being in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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