The University of Portsmouth is working with the Caribbean Islands of Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad & Tobago as they move towards a more sustainable future.
Specialist workshops with government officials are being held this week in Antigua and Trinidad, supported by researchers from the University, to introduce the Rapid Readiness Assessment for a Sustainable Blue Economy.
This Rapid Readiness Assessment (RRA) is a trial that will be taking place over the next few months and the results will inform the Islands in their next steps towards becoming a sustainable ‘blue’ economy. This means the Islands will be able to effectively tap into ocean resources and support long-term economic growth, while also protecting marine and coastal ecosystems.
The RRA will evaluate how ready the Islands national systems, structures and stakeholders are to make the transition to becoming a sustainable blue economy. Building on progress already made in each country, the RRA will help governments and stakeholders understand their current situation and identify both opportunities and gaps.
Antaya March from the University of Portsmouth is leading the work being done in Antigua and Barbuda. She said: “This is a critical time to bring together all of the valuable, existing work in each country and identify how to harmonise approaches and avoid duplication of efforts. A sustainable blue economy presents the opportunity for Antigua & Barbuda and Trinidad & Tobago to truly tap into the wealth of resources the ocean offers, provide equitable sharing of the benefits and reduce their economies’ over reliance on tourism and oil respectively, for a more balanced and equal operating system.”
The assessments are being coordinated under the Commonwealth Blue Charter programme, with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Howell Marine Consulting and the University of Portsmouth. They will consider factors such as leadership, laws and policies, sustainable financing, stakeholder engagement and institutional infrastructure, among others. Government officials will work with experts to review the results and outline possible next steps towards the transition.
Project lead, Dr Jeff Ardron from the Commonwealth Secretariat said: “Commonwealth ocean states are acutely aware of the vast ocean resources that exist within their waters, as well as the need to protect the marine environment. We are pleased to be able to support Trinidad & Tobago, together with Antigua & Barbuda in developing sustainable blue economies, and thank them for their willingness to pilot this new methodology. Both face similar challenges as small island developing states, but they also have key economic differences. The rapid readiness assessments should pinpoint gaps and opportunities for each.”
UNEP spokesperson, Ole Vestergaard said: “During the first online discussion to familiarise stakeholders with the project, representatives from the partner governments thanked the Commonwealth, UNEP and other partners and welcomed the rapid readiness assessment process.”
Acting Director of the Department of the Blue Economy for Antigua and Barbuda, Ms Ann-Louise Hill, added: “The sustainable blue economy promotes economic growth and improved livelihoods across a wide range of sectors, while ensuring the sustainable and responsible use of marine resources. Through a combination of workshops, information-gathering and analysis, this process will help us to identify and understand what is required to improve Antigua and Barbuda’s sustainable blue economy.”