OECS Member States transitioning to a Blue Economy

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CASTRIES, St Lucia, (OECS) — Five OECS Member States are one step closer to transitioning to a Blue Economy.

Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have begun the process of validating Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans (CMSP) prepared under the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP).

The Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP) is funded by the Global Environment Facility through the World Bank. It aims to move OECS Member States closer to a Blue Economy.

Transitioning from Small Island Developing States to Large Ocean States through sustainable use of ocean resources is a major goal of the OECS. To enable the fulfillment of this goal, the development of Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans forms a major component of CROP, which is currently being implemented by the OECS Commission on behalf of Member States.

A Validation Forum was held via the OECS Virtual Convention Centre on Friday, February 26, which brought together key policymakers and technical experts from participating Member States. Head of the Environmental Sustainability Division at the OECS Commission, Chamberlain Emmanuel, in his opening remarks  told delegates:

“The CMSP process has recognized, adopted and built on decades of pioneering work by and in Member States and has added tremendous value through consultation with and input from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, and the application of cutting-edge tools, expertise and experience. The CMSPs are not the start or the end of this journey, but another milestone along the road towards a model Blue Economy sub-region. They are not to be applied exclusively or rigidly, but should serve as a dynamic framework, added to the toolbox for decision-making and actions, for a sustainable ocean-based or Blue Economy. Your validation and endorsement is significant, as a demonstration of the commitment of Member States and a call to partners and investors for additional support and engagement.”

During the Validation Forum, Dillon Consulting presented summaries of the revised draft CMSPs for the five Member States, which were prepared from consultations with key stakeholders, building on existing work in coastal and marine planning. The Forum marked the culmination of a two-year process of stakeholder engagement. The presentation included Coastal Zoning Maps (Models) depicting conservation, transportation, tourism and recreation, fishing, and industrial zones.

The consultants also presented a range of Blue Economy projects for the Member States under the following thematic areas: Climate Resilience, Environmental Protection, Economic Growth, Good Governance, and Equitable Development. Proposed projects include initiatives in aquaculture, mariculture, fisheries, renewable energy exploration, waterfront development, village tourism, coastal replanting, beach nourishment, and conversion of fish waste to fertilizer.

Also proposed was the establishment of a Maritime Training Facility, as well as a Blue Economy Incubator and Accelerator Programme.

OECS director-general, Dr Didacus Jules, congratulated the Ocean Governance and Fisheries Unit at the Commission and lauded the work of the Dillon Consulting team in developing the Coastal and Marine Spatial Plans for Member States.

“I really want to express great pride in the presentations made by the consultants. It is really heartening to see that quality of work, so thorough, so detailed, so incisive, done by Caribbean people. I think it is a moment of great pride for all of us. For too long we’ve been on the receiving end of intellectual capital and ideas from outside. We really need to congratulate the consultants for this extraordinary work.”

The validation of the draft CMSPs marks a critical stage in the region’s transition to a Blue Economy. These plans define an enabling framework that sets the stage for blue growth investments and offer a 15-year timeframe to support the transition towards a Blue Economy through sustainable and equitable use of coastal and marine space, protecting coastal and marine ecosystems, and managing land-water interactions. Guided by an evidence-based Island Systems Management, the plans serve as national blue economy roadmaps with interventions and investments aimed at achieving mutually reinforcing outcomes of good governance, economic growth, equitable development, environmental protection, and climate resilience.

Member States have until March 15, 2021, to submit any additional comments, following which, the Final Draft CMSPs will be submitted for endorsement.

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