Conferees discuss their future goals.

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – Ways to continue the economic growth, build coastal communities resilience, promote sustainable development of the oceans’ resources and to transition to a Blue Economy was stressed at a Nov. 7 seminar held here by the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

According to http://thecommonwealth.org, the ‘Blue Economy’ is an emerging concept, which encourages better stewardship of our ocean or ‘blue’ resources. It underpins the thinking behind the Commonwealth Blue Charter, highlighting the close linkages between the ocean, climate change, and the well-being of the people of the Commonwealth.

At its heart, the Commonwealth Blue Charter reaffirms the values of the Commonwealth, including equity and public participation in marine and coastal decision-making. It supports all of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG14 ‘life below water,’ and recognizes that this will require ambitious, coordinated actions to sustainably manage, protect and preserve our ocean now for the sake of present and future generations.

The OECS seminar is the second in a series of seminars which will be held across member states. The seminars aim is to create awareness of marine spatial planning and the Blue Economy in participating Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project (CROP) countries.

OECS Director of Maritime Affairs, McClean Hobson, noted the seminar is of significant importance to St. Kitts and Nevis and other OECS Member States, and there is still much to be done with respect to the transition.

“Caribbean people, including the OECS members have benefited greatly since time immemorial from the ocean,” Hobson explained. “Yet oceans’ resources, which can be used to create sustainable economic opportunities, are yet to be accessed, enhanced and exploited.”

Hobson said to support transitioning to a Blue Economy everyone needs to become involved. A successful transition must involve OECS heads, the OECS Commission, OECS Oceans governance and its Fisheries Unit. He said the OECS governance team has worked assiduously to put crucial frameworks in place with support from the Commonwealth Secretariat and other organizations.

One such framework is the 2013 adoption of the Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy (ECROP) and Strategic Action Plan. These plans provide a framework to encourage and promote a common approach to ocean governance across the OECS.

The first seminar was held in Saint Lucia on Nov. 5. Upcoming Seminars will be held Nov. 9 in Grenada; Nov. 12 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and Nov. 15 in Dominica.