Blue Economy pivotal in building forward better in the region

January 23, 2021

UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in collaboration with UN partners and the governments of Barbados, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines are leveraging the Blue Economy as a driver for resilience, recovery and prosperity in the Eastern Caribbean through a new SDG Fund Joint Programme. Component One of the Programme, Harnessing Blue Economy Finance for SIDS Recovery and Sustainable Development (Blue Finance) was recently launched via an inception workshop. The virtual workshop was held on January 13th, 2021 between PUNO representatives and country counterparts and focussed on the processes towards the development of an enabling and supporting environment for financing the Blue Economy (BE).

Participants of the workshop focussed on examining and finding solutions to the key barriers to the success of the project; this open collaboration is necessary as the region comes together to sustainably harness the benefits of the Blue Economy. The discussions highlighted that to realise the Blue Economy’s enormous potential for Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS), there are several challenges that need to be addressed to create a conducive and sustainable environment for Blue Economy developers in the region. Most notably, are Eastern Caribbean SIDS high debt situation coupled with declining Official Development Assistance (ODA) and recurrent climatic issues, which reduce investor appetite to invest and expand the Blue Economy.

The Blue Finance Project Coordinator at UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean was pleased at the open dialogue and brainstorming at the inception workshop. Noting that “any endeavour with the Blue Economy SDGs will require great collaboration because it is not an easy undertaking. The issue of ease of doing business becomes important in that context because it is a structural issue that countries have been coping with which has been exacerbated by challenges like COVID-19.” Further remarking that to move ahead, all interested parties would need to cooperate, stating “this type of initiative will require support and financing from Governments and provisions in national estimates at the operational level. The conversation around the Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) is critical and should be continued to ensure practical programming and an impactful framework for the BE but it must take place within the larger national development context.”

As such, the Joint-Programme – which will be implemented with the support of the wider Poverty and Governance Cluster – addresses the current financial challenges of the beneficiary countries as well as the additional financial burden from the COVID-19 pandemic. The three countries will benefit from upscaling the UN’s existing initiatives with the private sector, through the establishment of a public-private consortium for blue investment. This partnership will leverage substantial resources from the private sector, in addition to the development finance provided by International Financial Institutions (CDB, IDB, World Bank and EIB) which have significant investments in the region’s Blue Economy sector.

The workshop was the first step for the programme which is designed to; identify policy and regulation gaps, create a methodology to identify key Blue Economy opportunities, and define specific financing mechanisms for Blue Economy initiatives to achieve resilient growth. Component 1 of the project will run until 2022.

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