Bridgetown 18, February 2022 – H.E. Mr. Teruhiko Shinada, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Barbados, and Ms. Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, took a further step in supporting the region in its quest to find solutions to the growing problem of Sargassum seaweed that has been plaguing regional coastlines since 2011. This support comes in the form of US$12,339,473.00 towards The Project for Improving National Sargassum Management Capacities in the Caribbean which will assist the countries of Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. The official Exchange of Notes (E/N) signing between the Government of Japan and UNDP, was conducted at UN House, on February 18, 2022, where the Hon. Adrian Forde, Minister of Environment and National Beautification in Barbados was present to participate in the ceremony.
Addressing the audience at the signing ceremony, H.E. Mr. Teruhiko Shinada stated, “I am pleased to launch this Project in partnership with UNDP. This Grant-Aid Project, which will be financed by Japan and implemented by UNDP, aims to support the efforts made by Barbados and four other countries in the region to tackle the challenges caused by sargassum. These countries will be supplied with equipment such as floating boom barriers, aquatic conveyors, work boats, machine surface beach rakes, tractors, and dump trucks. The Project also includes the transfer of expertise and technical knowledge on the collection, removal, transport and disposal of sargassum. Japan is an island country just like the Caribbean states. So, we all share the common understanding that sustainable coastal environment is fundamental for our life, economy and public health. Our integrated approach at this point is also important when it comes to the post-COVID economic recovery in terms of tourism, fisheries and transportation. Let us continue working together to improve the coastal environment which is vital for us all.”
Hon. Adrian Forde, Minister of Environment and National Beautification in Barbados in his statement, noted “I want to express on behalf of the government, our heartfelt and immeasurable thanks to the Government of Japan and UNDP for realizing this noble cause… we have been challenged over the last few years with an abnormal influx [of Sargussum seaweed] due to the impacts of climate change and the effects on our marine life and our fisheries and tourism sectors are numerous… I am happy today to champion this cause on behalf of our country Barbados and look forward to the partnership.”
The project aims to support the enhancement of national capacity for the removal and disposal of Sargassum by providing Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago with Sargassum removal and collection machinery which will be complemented and supported further by relevant gender-responsive training and capacity development programmes. The project will also explore scientific monitoring technologies such as UAS drones and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) spatial mapping tools to evaluate the quantum of Sargassum influx. In addition, site-specific Sargassum collection and management plans to minimize beach erosion and sea turtle nesting sites will be developed in each of the countries of focus under this initiative.
Speaking to the importance of projects like these while highlighting the ever-increasing effects of climate change, Ms. Valerie Cliff stated, “The now almost seasonal, influx of Sargassum Seaweed, when paired with the current adverse effects of climate change, like sea level rise and ocean acidification, further increases the vulnerability of SIDS. However, through the generous support of the government of Japan, Caribbean governments can make greater strides in not only removing but understanding this phenomenon and enhancing regional capacity to handle it moving forward.”
This initiative will boost marine and near-shore coastal conservation efforts, support integrated coastal management actions, and mitigate negative impacts on sectors such as fisheries, public health, and tourism with consideration for including gender dimensions, where possible. The project is expected to run for a period of three years.
This project is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the "Blue Economy for Green Islands" vision. As the Caribbean continues to seek solutions to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, UNDP, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and building resilient communities that can withstand shocks and crises through targeted projects and programmes.
For media queries contact: Shani Leacock: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at www.bb.undp.org or follow at @UNDPBarbados