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Barbados is Leading the Way for SIDS in Green Economy Transition

Prime Minister Endorses Green Economy Roadmap to Advance the Island’s Sustainable Development Agenda.

Bridgetown, Barbados, 5 June 2014 - As part of the 2014 World Environment Day celebrations, being hosted by the Government of Barbados, the Minister responsible for the Environment, Dr. The Honourable Denis Lowe unveiled the findings of a joint study calling for a roadmap to drive the country’s green economy plans forward.

In the foreword to the study, the Prime Minister The Right Honourable Freundel Stuart Q.C., M.P., said: “The issue of green economy is of particular importance to Barbados given our national commitment to advancing an inclusive sustainable development paradigm – in the process creating a Barbados that is socially balanced, economically viable and environmentally sound. These outcomes are, and will continue to be, at the centre of the local discourse regarding the pursuit of greening the Barbados small island open economy.”

Barbados pledged cooperation with other small island developing states, particularly in the Caribbean, in scaling up their efforts to move towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy.

Like many small island developing states, Barbados is facing daunting macro-economic challenges exacerbated by the hangover of the global economic and financial crisis, in addition to adapting to the impact of climate change.

To strategically advance its green economy, the country has spearheaded a three-year effort to take an in-depth look at five key sectors – agriculture, fisheries, tourism, buildings/housing and transport – as well as the cross-cutting issues of waste, water, energy and land.

The final report, Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study, confirms that despite efforts to create the right national policies, more public and private investment is needed in key economic sectors, along with education and changes in consumer behaviour, to make the transition to a green economy.

“A green economy approach offers opportunities for managing natural capital, diversifying the economy, creating green jobs, increasing resource efficiency, and supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development,” said Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Barbados has long been a leader in the Caribbean region in this realm, and it is playing an important role in inspiring other small island developing states by sharing its strategies and lessons on this journey.”

The study involved extensive consultations with stakeholders in each of the key sectors, and these outcomes are also reflected in the recommendations. For example, the report finds the following:

  • Greening the Caribbean, which is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, is no longer an option but an imperative. Opportunities for growth include marketing Barbados as a green destination, developing heritage and agro-tourism, and creating partnerships for promoting marine conservation.

  • Increasing the utilization of clean technologies and creating better collaboration on transboundary marine jurisdictions and resource-use in the region could bring added value to fisheries.

  • Investing in restructuring the sugar industry, which has been contracting for three decades now, and adopting and promoting organic agriculture could also create new avenues for growth.

  • Switching up to 29 per cent of its energy to renewables could save Barbados US$280 million by 2029.

  • Creating new policies and investment could ensure more efficient fuel performance, better air and noise pollution standards, improved traffic management, and mixed modes of transport on the island, as well as contribute to the creation of green jobs.

The study was conducted by experts from government, the University of West Indies - Cave Hill Campus and UNEP, along with numerous other national and regional experts.

It identifies nine key policymaking areas that are needed for greening the economy and outlines several elements for creating a nation-wide green economy roadmap.

These include:

  • Empowering the country’s world-renowned Social Partnership – made up of representatives from government, labour and business – to take more overall responsibility for the country’s green economy plans;

  • Establishing a set of operational principles for policy development, education and monitoring and evaluation;

  • Creating more support for private sector initiatives to advance the country’s transition;

  • Developing a set of metrics that can drive the progress towards a green economy;

  • Promoting SIDS-SIDS knowledge transfer of green economy policies and practices, as well as building capacity in each of the key sectors and in new green industries.

By implementing the recommendations in each of the key sectors, the study concludes that the transition to a green economy will not only support environmental sustainability, but also promote economic diversification, new business opportunities and job creation.

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