The Minister of Environment and Drainage of Barbados, Dr. Dennis Lowe, highlighted the impact that the green economy has had on the country, “moving from a fringe concept on the environment to a widely embraced approach for economic prosperity, and a key building block for Barbados’ forward growth strategy”.
His statement came during PAGE’s mission to Barbados on February 7-10, which had two main objectives. First, the government of Barbados and key stakeholders defined the kind of support the country needs from PAGE, building on the green economy opportunities and recommendations identified in the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study. Second, it defined the activities to be carried out under the one-year inception-stocktaking phase of PAGE in the country, running from January 2017 to December 2017.
The mission occurred at an interesting moment in time, with celebrations over Barbados’ 50th Anniversary since Independence. It also coincided with the launch of a new solar photovoltaic panel assembly plant, expected to create 200 new jobs for the country. These efforts support the achievement of the National Strategic Plan (2006-2025), “Building a Green Economy: Strengthening the Physical Infrastructure and Preserving the Environment”.).
At the institutional and policy level, a number of important developments have taken place. The Parliament recently adopted the GESS as a national informational document, illustrating bi-partisan support for a transition to a green economy. In the same vein, green economy was recognized as a driver in Barbados’ new Physical Development Plan. The concept of green economy is being mainstreamed across ministries, with various ministries launching their own green economy initiatives.
The mission included meetings among relevant UN agencies, key ministries such as the Ministries of Environment and Drainage; Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade; Finance and Economic Affairs; and Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development; Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource Development; PAGE funding partners, along with other key stakeholders from business, labour, academia and civil society.
The PAGE inception workshop identified priority areas for the first year of PAGE support, including green jobs, green industry, a system of evaluating progress of green economy metrics and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) outreach for capacity building on green economy.
PAGE will also seek to address challenges faced regarding youth and employment, as they will be engaged in designing sustainable innovations, and telling their stories as a part of a communications campaign “Harvesting stories of green economy pioneers”. A communication strategy, including competitions, prizes and the use of social media will be launched in an effort to connect with and generate the interest of youth.
Though the manufacturing base in Barbados is small, there are several advantages to implementing a green economy as there is a well-educated workforce and opportunities to specialize and deepen the fishing and tourism industries and improving energy and energy efficiency in construction.
The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus has also been instrumental in establishing competencies in green economy and oceans which can be used to inform and develop a regional forum to share best practices among SIDS.
The agriculture, fisheries, building/housing, transport and tourism are the key sectors identified by the Barbados Green Economy scoping study, which will contribute to the green economy transition. The industries expect to benefit from improved socio-economic performances.