The BVI and other small islands that are part of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) are being urged to consider themselves as ‘large-ocean states’ because the waters that line their borders have great economic potential.
This challenge came from the Finance Minister for St Vincent and the Grenadines, Camillo Gonsalves who delivered the keynote address at the recent OECS Sustainable Development Movement (SDM 2020) conference.
He urged OECS members to invest in the blue economy as most of their jurisdictions are made up of the ocean rather than land.
“OECS territories are roughly 90 to 99 percent ocean. We may be ‘small island developing states’, but we are also ‘large-ocean developing states’. We are a lot bigger than we think we are. To ignore our vast seascape and its tremendous potential is developmental malpractice,” Gonsalves said.
The World Bank defines the blue economy as sustainable use of the resources of the world’s oceans and seas for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and improved health of the ocean’s ecosystems.
At the Sustainable Development Movement 2020 conference, the following blue investment opportunities were proposed: aquaculture, mariculture, fisheries, conversion of fish waste to fertiliser and other products, renewable energy exploration, waterfront development, fishing village resorts, coastal replanting, and beach nourishment.
Gonsalves urged the island states to retain a great degree of control of their marine resources and ocean space, even when partnering with responsible private enterprise.
He said governments of these Caribbean islands must not allow the private sector to entice them with capital, equipment, and specialised expertise as this often leads to exploitation of the marine environment of small states.
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