October 1, 2020

Championing resilient oceans for prosperity

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GEF-World Bank/OECS Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project

By Susanna DeBeauville-Scott

The world’s ocean offers great potential for economic growth and development, improved livelihoods and jobs, and closing the gap on poverty and unemployment rates. Of note is the peculiar circumstance of small island developing states, such as member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), where their sea space is about 100 times that of their land space. 

As stated by Dr Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS Commission:

“As large ocean states, we have much more ocean than land, and we need to recognise, and take up the tremendous opportunities that our ocean resources can deliver to all our citizens, if we plan, manage and care for them in a sustainable and responsible way.”

However, sadly, anthropogenic activity is threatening these systems and putting potential benefits at risk.  As one of the key blue economy frontrunners in the Caribbean, the OECS has taken a first step to enabling transition to a blue economy through the development and adoption of the Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy (ECROP) and associated Strategic Action Programme (ECROP SAP). Endorsed by the OECS Heads of Government in 2013, the ECROP guides the future use of the region’s marine waters and provides a basis for enhanced coordination and management of ocean resources within the Eastern Caribbean.

Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy Vision

“The coastal and marine resources of the Eastern Caribbean are sustainably managed to optimise the potential of our natural capital to support a blue economy, ensure resilience and adaptation to climate impacts, protect and restore the marine ecosystems of the region, and nurture our natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations.”  

A photo in this story

On 14 October 2017, a Grant Agreement for the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP) was signed between the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, acting as an Implementing Agency of the Global Environment Facility, and the OECS.  The CROP is designed to contribute to the implementation of the ECROP by strengthening capacity for ocean governance, and coastal and marine geospatial planning in the participating countries to create a strong foundation for a blue economy.

Despite the challenges arising from the current global pandemic, the OECS pushes forward with the implementation of the CROP towards moving member states ever closer to a blue economy.

“As part of the ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of society’ response in OECS Member States to the amplified risks and hazards, and unprecedented exposures and impacts caused the COVID-19 pandemic, a blue economy is a foundational building block to support recovery, resilience, reengineering and regeneration from our largest natural capital – our marine space.”

-David Robin, OECS Ocean Governance and Fisheries Programme Coordinator

Project Achievements

In 2019, the CROP facilitated the enhancement of the ECROP through revision to align it with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The enhanced ECROP aims to sustainably and equitably address competition, inter-dependencies and pressures across ocean-related sectors to ensure a greater balance between the conservation and use of the ocean and resources therein (SDG 14), and contribute to poverty reduction, food security, human health, healthy terrestrial ecosystems, ecosystem-based climate change mitigation and adaptation, and equitable economic growth and decent employment (SDGs 1–8 and 10–17) in the OECS.

The CROP has also resulted in the preparation of National Ocean Policies (NOPs) and strategic action plans for participating countries.  While the regional framework set out in the ECROP provides direction for ocean governance, the NOPs set out the means to operationalise this direction through national decision making and action.

Moreover, under the CROP, marine spatial planning commenced in 2018 with broad based stakeholder consultations in each participating state to identify relevant data and information, assess existing conditions, determine desired outcomes, identify gaps and weaknesses, and identify management options. The fall of 2020 will see the development of a marine spatial plan for each participating country. The scope of each marine spatial plan will cover from the coastline to the outer limits of the respective EEZ. These plans will be guided by an OECS regional marine planning framework that will provide considerations for transboundary issues.

To learn more about the role of CROP in the Caribbean Blue Economy, watch their video below!

Boat sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo credit: Annie Mason, 2020

Boat sailing in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Photo credit: Annie Mason, 2020

CROP Webinars

In June 2020, the CROP will host a webinar series. The first webinar, Delivering Good Ocean Governance in the OECS taking place 10 June 2020is designed for technical officers andintroduces the concept of a blue economy, the principles of good governance and explains how ocean governance is being delivered in the OECS. The next webinar on 17 June 2020, Looking After Our Oceans in the OECSwill engage students, civil society organisations, and the general public; and the final webinar will focus on A Blue Economy for the OECS and target high-level policy makers. The date for the final webinar will be announced on thewebsite.

Photo credit: Simon Abrams, 2020

Photo credit: Simon Abrams, 2020

For more information on the CROP project please contact the Project Coordinator,Susanna DeBeauville-Scott ([email protected]) or visit their webpage and the featured project page on iwlearn.net.

This article was prepared for the GEF IW:LEARN Special Edition Newsletter in celebration of World Oceans Day, 8 June 2020FootnotesCover photo credit: Claude Piche, Unsplash; Feature photo credit: Fernando Jorge, Unsplash

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