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The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has approved the first Maritime Blue Economy Plan (MBEP), and a blue economy department gap analysis for the formal establishment of the Department of the Blue Economy.

The department is charged with the implementation of this plan. A release from the Ministry says the MBEP is a partnership initiative between the governments of the United Kingdom (UK) and Antigua and Barbuda.

This inaugural plan provides an overview of the existing maritime economy of the twin island state and sets out priorities and actions that aim to help the country demonstrate a clear vision and direction that takes account of national issues, international commitments and the challenges of a Small Island State.

“This original plan provides actions to support economic growth, livelihoods and jobs, while it reduces losses from natural hazards, weather events and climate change. The overall objective is to help grow the national economy in a way that reflects the aims of the Commonwealth Charter, including good governance, sustainable development, gender equality, and recognising the needs of small and vulnerable States,” the release said.

Dean Jonas, Minister of Social Transformation, Human Resource Development, and the Blue Economy said, “The events of 2020, most notably the Covid -19 pandemic have brought home the urgent need to diversify our economy so that our island nation can better handle the shocks of such unprecedented events.”

The Minister added that, “In one fell swoop, our foremost contributor to our nation’s economy, tourism, was significantly impacted with little or no notice. Our government, cognisant of the need to identify new economic sectors which will result in growth, innovation, jobs and investment while safeguarding healthy ecosystems is very grateful for the work of the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CME), the UK government and the many local stakeholders who made this document possible, notably, the Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS).”    

To implement this plan, the Department of the Blue Economy will work closely with and coordinate the efforts of key blue economy stakeholders and investors to broaden economic opportunities which will translate to increased economic resilience, improved socio-economy standards, and advancements in climate adaptation.