Updated: November 11, 2018

"Maturity and life is achieved when you go beyond your dreams" Gunter Pauli

On Thursday November 15, 2018 the OECS will hold a 1 Day Seminar in Dominica in the hopes of helping Dominica transition to the Blue Economy. What is that concept all about? Imagine, for a moment, that an island with unrecognizable resources which kept losing its most valuable resource (its people) to other lands. What would be the best solution? Well, a plausible solution would be develop and maximize the under appreciated resources to benefit its people. This is where Gunter Pauli's concept of  a blue economy fits in.  Mr. Pauli is  a Belgium economist and sustainability guru. In 1994, while working at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan he proposed the idea that you use what you have, "use what is available".  That is innovations inspired-by nature. This concept includes the sustainable use of the ocean's resources for economic growth for a better life and more jobs while, at the same time, preserving the integrity of the ocean.

The UN has been quite interested in that concept, especially as it pertained to the Green Economy.  Relating the idea to the Ocean was still in its infancy.  However, that has since changed after the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development Goals. The main theme of that Conference was focused on the Green Economy. However, many of the coastal countries with small landmass did not see how that it pertained to them. So, they wanted more focus on addressing the concept of a Blue Economy and began the preparations to pursue that concept. Accordingly, coastal and island developing countries are considered to be at the forefront of this Blue economy which offers a better approach to sustainable development. This is particularly important because  some of these countries may have water territory that is 70 or more times greater than the size of their land mass.  The Blue Economy initiative affords island nations and coastal villages the opportunity to harness marine and coastal resources as the next phase in their economic development. If embraced by the Caribbean states, there is tremendous potential for these Caribbean islands to boost growth, reduce poverty, create jobs and enhance food security. Concurrently, the Blue Economy Approach will mitigate climate change and increase resiliency. 

Since the Rio Conference, many initiatives were put forth, including a Blue Economy concept Paper released by the UN in 2014.  Subsequently, other Ocean conferences have been held; mostly with the goal of getting small developing states to transition towards the Blue Economy. In addition, the Commonwealth has decided to help their members in the process, to take full advantage of this new economy because many of their member nations have an abundance of territorial water. So, they have mapped out what they called "the Commonwealth Ocean" and have adopted A Commonwealth Blue Charter which will guide members and protect the ocean as they navigate this new frontier and and take advantage of this new economy.  

Small island states have a huge opportunity to take advantage of the vast ocean resources.  These states have, relative to their land mass, vast ocean resources at their disposal – presenting a huge opportunity to boost their economic growth and tackle unemployment, food insecurity and poverty. Yet, they also have the most to lose from the degradation of marine resources. Each country will have to draft its own vision for a sustainable ocean economy. The goal is to balance growth and sustainability through optimizing use of ocean resources while simultaneously affording maximum benefit (or at least minimal harm) to the environment. Five island states in the Caribbean have been targeted in the initial transition towards a Blue Economy:  St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Dominica. 

It appears that Grenada has been very proactive in putting out a plan in 2016, which they call The Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan. The project was supported by The Kingdom of the Netherlands and, they also partnered with the World Bank which has since adopted Grenada's plan as a prototype. The World Bank has also approved a grant of US 6.5 million dollars which is set up under Caribbean Regional Oceans-cape Project. Under this project, stakeholders can acquaint themselves with marine spatial planning and the blue economy concept. To facilitate this, the OECS grouping is holding 1-day seminars in those 5 states to help states understand marine spatial priority as they transition to Blue Economy. This is also ahead of the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference being  held in Nairobi, Kenya form 26th-28th November 2018.

Since the beginning of November 2018, the OECS have been holding these 1-day seminars to inform the public and the press as it relates to these new initiatives. On Thursday 15 November, 2018  will be Dominica's turn. A press conference will be held following the conclusion of the seminar.  At this time, it is unclear where this seminar will be held in Dominica because, up to time of this writing there were no notices pertaining to to the Dominica seminar on the OECS web-pages; this is despite notices for all the other islands detailing where the conferences would be held and who should be contacted. Is the Administration in Dominica aware this OECS 1-day seminar in Dominica? Why have they not sent in their itinerary to the OECS so that it could be published on their site? Is this also a secret?

It seems that Dominica may have missed the Green Economy train and is setting up itself to miss the Blue Economy wave. This latter development initiate bears tremendous potential for coastal communities in Dominica. It behooves the current Administration in Dominica to jump on board with this approach to sustainable developmental strategy before it is too late. Grenada seems to have taken the 'ball' and is poised to 'run away'. Notwithstanding, there is still time for Dominica and the other targeted OECS nations to 'catch-up'.

Update: 11/13/ 2018. The location for the Dominica 1 Day Seminar miraculously appeared this evening on the OECS site. Here is the link for the information.  Seminar