Countries in the Caribbean need to find new, efficient and sustainable approaches to manage their terrestrial and marine resources.
Daniel Best, Director, Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), made this recommendation, noting that these approaches must also prevent further degradation of these resources.
He was speaking at the opening of the first Biennial Caribbean Coastal Conference held at CDB’s headquarters in Barbados on September 14-15.
Best told participants that this initial dialogue on the coastal agenda in the Caribbean should lay the groundwork for galvanizing action, improving policy and guiding management of this critical resource.
“More than 60% of our region’s population live in coastal areas and almost all of the region’s main urban centres, critical infrastructure such as ports and transportation corridors, are located less than one kilometre from the coast.
“Our coastal environments not only provide these socio-economic services but also important ecological services to which we hardly give serious consideration: storm protection, erosion control, freshwater storage and retention, nutrient recycling and atmospheric and climate control,” he said.
In the Caribbean, there has been increasing conflict around the use of coastal space. Growing environmental challenges also pose a threat to the sustainable use of these resources.
Best notes that while climate change and climate variability are expected to further exacerbate these already complex coastal management issues, efforts have to be made to address the situation.
“This is no easy task. It requires a number of key actions: applying cross-sectoral approaches to policy and management; the development of national and local plans appropriate for local conditions and circumstances to prevent damage and restore infrastructure where it occurs; the development of tools and guidance resources; and capturing, archiving and giving stakeholders access to a range of data and information needs,” he said.
The two-day conference on the advancement of the coastal agenda was organized in collaboration with Caribbean coastal engineering company, Smith Warner International Ltd. Nineteen representatives from CDB’s Borrowing Member Countries explored hot-button topics, including the characteristics and economics of coastal resources, regulating and managing the coastal zone, underused and overlooked critical tools for sustainable coastal management, and climate change implications and solutions.
Perspectives shared during the Conference will lead to the preparation of an indicative roadmap for addressing critical coastal zone issues, particularly concerns regarding building resilience to climate vulnerability and change in the Caribbean.