The Territory’s plans to develop a blue economy was given a boost on Thursday November 21 when the Blue Economy Accelerator Lab programme was launched.
Dubbed 'the Blue Lab', the programme is to serve as an incubator aimed at harnessing the innovations and opportunities of persons within the BVI who are focusing on the Blue Economy.
This launch was done in a collaboration between the Government, the Multi-Country Office for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as part of the United Nation’s Development Programme (UNDP).
Deputy Premier and Minister for Natural Resources, Hon. Vincent Wheatley stated that the lab is in line with Government’s interest in promoting innovation in the Territory. He said that it is vital that the Territory is able to further utilize the water it is surrounded by in a sustainable way.
Hon. Wheatley further described the Blue Lab initiative as a partnership that developed quickly.
“One such opportunity that has materialized very quickly is partnering with the UNDP and the blue lab initiative. From the onset it would provide grassroots solutions to some of the challenges that we’re experiencing and will face as we further develop our ocean based economic sectors,” Hon. Wheatley stated.
The primary objective of the Blue Lab is to promote out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS), with a focus on Caribbean countries, in the sustainable development of its ocean-based economic sectors.
The Deputy Premier announced that the collaboration has already borne fruits in the form of a soon to be completed roadmap.
“The technical support from United Nations Development Programme, the government through the Premier’s Office and close collaboration between the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour, and Immigration and the Ministry of Education, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture is in the final stages of developing a blue economy road map. This will primarily focus on how we can develop our fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, and marine scientific research sectors and provide us with a direction to do so in a sustainable way while taking advantage of the opportunities that may exist,” he stated.
Additionally, Hon. Wheatley mentioned some specific areas the lab is expected to tackle and yield solutions.
“Critical solutions that will help us adapt to the effects of climate change, utilize sustainable fishing practices, manage effectively our marine tourism product, develop better waste management systems and utilize more renewable energy sources,” the Minister explained.
The Blue Lab is part of the UNDP Accelerator Labs initiative, the world’s largest and fastest learning network that UNDP is building to address development challenges in the new era where changes are happening rapidly.