Yes, the Blue Economy is here! Or is it? At least there are conferences being held about it. Just a few years back, we were talking about the Green Economy, it seems. There was even a Green Economy Scoping Study done for Jamaica (I wonder how that is working out). Now, we have moved, rather swiftly, from Green to Blue.
So I looked up the Blue Economy. The World Bank defines it as:
The Blue Economy is sustainable uses of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.
Well, that’s quite a tall order. The World Bank lists several critical areas: Tourism, Renewable Energy, Waste Management, Fisheries, Climate Change and Maritime Transport. It produced a Report last year discussing the benefits of the Blue Economy for Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States (Jamaica falls in the latter compartment).
Eastern Caribbean countries – in particular, Grenada – are happily embracing the Blue Economy concept. Grenada has a Blue Growth Master Plan and expects to double its GDP through blue growth. I am not sure of the timeframe for this. It seems to include more fishing.
If I am not mistaken, the Caribbean is one of the most over-fished regions in the world. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), “overfishing and the degradation of coral reefs across the Caribbean and Pacific islands are pushing many fish…towards extinction.” Yet, here in Jamaica, our Fisheries Division does not consider it necessary to ban the parrotfish, despite numerous studies showing that they are essential to coral reef health…and thus our lovely white beaches. We have an “unsustainable” mindset. We keep on taking. And we keep on building stuff along the coast – more hotels, and even a new captive dolphin facility!
Ah, the Blue Economy is making me feel SO blue!
I am also not sure that Jamaica has fully grasped the Blue Economy concept yet. So, State Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade (why this ministry?) Senator Pearnel Charles, Jr. is off to Kenya, where I am sure he will learn more and be able to tell us all about it when he gets back.
Let’s hope this relatively new concept is more than just a catchphrase. Let’s hope it’s not all too late. Here is the Ministry’s press release regarding the Kenya conference:
November 23, 2018
Jamaica to Support Global Efforts at Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Kenya
Jamaica is set to participate with other countries across the world to explore measures and actions for promoting the sustainability of the oceans and aquatic resources establish networks for collaboration, promote new technologies and share best practices, at the Sustainable Blue Economy conference to be held in Nairobi, Kenya.
Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, will lead a delegation from November 26- 28, to deliver on the country’s position in working towards the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 which seeks to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
“The conference seeks to leverage the latest innovations, scientific advances and best practices to simultaneously grow the economy and build prosperity, whilst maintaining, preserving and conserving the environment and earth’s natural resources. In this respect, Heads of Government, Ministers and Heads of Organizations will be invited to make commitments to protect the associated resources, giving credence to the conference’s theme, The Blue Economy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” State Minister Charles Jr. explained.
Priority areas of focus for the Jamaican delegation at the Conference will include the management, preservation and conservation of marine life; climate action, agriculture and pollution free oceans. Employment, job creation and poverty eradication are also crucial focus areas for the Jamaican delegation, which will be constituted by members of the National Council on Ocean and Coastal Zone Management (NCOCZM), academia and civil society.
Contact: The Public Relations & Media Affairs Unit at Tel: 876 926-3740 ext. 3420-3421