The Blue Economy is an all-embracing, multi-sectoral engagement which promotes the sustainable use of coastal and marine resources to support economic development, improve livelihoods and strengthen resilience to climate change. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved IDA financing of US$56 million under a project dubbed Unleashing the Blue Economy of the Caribbean (UBEC). Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will each receive US$15 each, while Saint Lucia will receive financing to the tune of US$18 under the UBEC project.
The World Bank’s Problue MultiDonor Trust Fund has also provided grant financing of US$1 to the OECS Commission, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia. The Government of Saint Lucia acknowledges that the sustainable management and protection of its extensive ocean space and associated marine and coastal resources, particularly in the face of increasing climate change, play a key role in economic growth, job creation and diversification.
“We shall build and support our economic recovery and resilience by strengthening the sustainability and competitiveness of two critical and interconnected sectors – tourism and fisheries and expanding our infrastructure for waste management,” said Hon. Philip J. Pierre, Prime Minister of Saint Lucia during his 2022-2023 Budget Address. The Prime Minister further indicated that “… coordinating actions among the participating countries is critical to maximize synergies given our common dependence on tourism, our shared marine ecosystems and fisheries resources, and our shared goal of reducing marine pollution.”
The objectives of the project include: financing for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; increased access to fisheries sector risk insurance; strengthened coastal resilience; improved waste management practices; and greater regional collaboration. The Permanent Secretary in the Department of Finance stated: “This project is a game changer as it is envisaged to impact several real sectors and harness the potential of emerging sectors within our economy and those of participating States. The Department of Finance will be spearheading this initiative with support from other government agencies and the OECS Commission. It will require extensive collaboration and synergy amongst all parties, but the benefits are expected to be tremendous.”
Unleashing the Blue Economy of the Caribbean project builds on the recent success of the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project that supported development of policies and institutional reforms to improve the sustainability of tourism assets and coastal and marine natural resources. The OECS Commission and participating UBEC countries all played a strategic role in strengthening the regional integration of those policies, and this project will enable them all to continue that work.
The expansion of women-owned and managed businesses in the blue economy is also supported by the project with the introduction of a regional MSME matching grants program. There will be a focus on women as their needs will be prioritized in gaining access to additional protection from the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) climate risk insurance, which protects livelihoods of fishers in the event of extreme weather events.