In response to the challenges Caribbean islands are facing when it comes to sustainable use of marine resources, including impacts on ocean-related sectors such as fisheries, research, tourism, and on maritime transport infrastructure, The UWI and the UNDP signed an MOU in 2019 to support governments in the creation of public policies to diversify their economies while ensuring inclusive growth and sustainable development.
Contained within the MOU, the Blue Economy proposal is a paradigm shift that coordinates sectors instead of creating silos, promotes more integrated approaches to marine management and delivers structural funding, innovation, capacity building, and other changes that improve the management of Small Island Developing States' (SIDS) maritime space and related sectors.
It was signed by UWI Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Luis Felipe López Calva. This joint venture will provide Caribbean governments and other public entities with commissioned research and high-level technical assistance on critical development challenges that can have catalytic impact in the region.
Vice-Chancellor Beckles said, “The Caribbean Sea, around which approximately 115 million people live, accounts for 1% of the global ocean area and 14% of the global ocean economy. Partnership on the Blue Economy is therefore significant for our region.
The UWI continues to demonstrate that universities must play a unique role in advancing the 2030 global development agenda as drivers of knowledge, innovation and development solutions.
As an activist university, we take this role seriously, with particular responsibility for climate action given the vulnerability of our region. The impact of our efforts, however, will only be as strong as our partnerships with international players, so we will continue to create and promote opportunities like these to advance this agenda.”
Dr. Calva responded, saying, “UNDP is proud to join forces with The UWI and reaffirm its commitment to support Caribbean countries in effectively leveraging their ocean and coastal assets for economic and social development. This is not a pie in the sky, but rather very specific and concrete commitment to contribute in the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and the SDG Agenda.”
This collaboration builds on UNDP's Accelerator Labs, a new way of working in development. The organisation established 60 Accelerator Labs across the world; the one in Barbados is the only one based in the Caribbean and focuses on promoting innovation and community engagement on Blue Economy-related sectors and to make progress along three lanes: higher productivity and growth; a greater inclusion in the labour market and in access to quality services; and stronger resilience.