We talk a lot about the green and blue economy and sustainable development, and over the past weekend Barbadians got the opportunity to witness tangible demonstrations of what this meant as the island hosted the inaugural Small Island Future Festival (SIFF) at the Pelican Craft Centre in Bridgetown.
At the opening ceremony, Minister of the Environment and National Beautification Trevor Prescod said the exhibition was another example of Barbados’ leadership in addressing the issues Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have faced since hosting the inaugural United Nations Global Conference on Small Island Developing States in 1994.
He added that his ministry was committed to an all-inclusive approach to helping Barbados achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. “In 2007, we became the first country in the Caribbean and Latin America to develop a national green economy policy and as such, my ministry remains committed to the implementation of this and other policies that represent pathways to national sustainable development.
“We do recognise that our aspirations [for the] green and blue economy cannot be [achieved] using a siloed approach. We want a joint approach with government, the private sector, civil society and the international agencies represented here, because we owe it to the next generation of our citizenry,” he added.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Elsworth Reid stated that many Barbadians did not understand the connection between environmental preservation and the overall wellbeing of the country’s economy.
“People take the environment for granted and continue to inflict harm on the economy through their own careless actions. For example, when we think of tourism, one of its public goods is the ocean and people expect it to be of a high quality. So when the ocean becomes polluted and damaged by human hands it is no longer a treasure to see and touch. Apart from degraded beaches people no longer want to patronise, we also lose some of our seafood stock when fertilisers and residue from garbage ends up flowing into the sea.” With that in mind, he commended the work of the civil society organisations and other groups which were doing their part to spread the message of environmental preservation.
Reid also revealed two initiatives his ministry was pursuing in terms of enhancing the island’s marine resources. “We want to introduce a Fisheries Bill to prevent overfishing and sale of juvenile fish, and my ministry is also approaching stakeholders in the marine sector with the intention of establishing a national conservation trust fund under the Companies or Charter Act to source funds for investment in conservation projects on land and sea.”
National Coordinator of the United Nations Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Programme David Bynoe, whose organisation was one of the main facilitators behind the event, called on the international agencies present to form partnerships aimed at replicating events similar to SIFF in small island developing states in Africa and the Pacific Ocean.
Exhibitors represented current and past grantees of the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programmes, blue and green businesses and other civil society groups of Barbados. The UN Village featured an interactive display of the work various UN agencies are spearheading surrounding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event closed on Saturday evening with a concert featuring performances by Ch’An, Mikey, Damian Marvay, Biggie Irie, Altered Fifth and an environmentally friendly fireworks display. (DH)