WASHINGTON, USA – The World Bank’s board of executive directors has approved IDA financing of US$56 million for the Unleashing the Blue Economy of the Caribbean (UBEC) project, to support several Eastern Caribbean countries in catalyzing the sustainable economic potential of their living marine and coastal assets. Of that sum, $15 million will be provided to Grenada, US$18 million to Saint Lucia and US$15 million to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines along with a US$8 million IDA grant provided to the OECS Commission for integrated regional interventions.
In addition, the World Bank’s PROBLUE Multidonor Trust Fund has provided grant financing of US$1 million each to Grenada, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to as well as US$1 million to the OECS Commission.
The Blue Economy is a comprehensive, multi-sectoral approach aimed at promoting sustainable use of living coastal and marine natural resources to support economic development, improve livelihoods dependent on such resources and strengthen resilience to climate change. The project objectives include financing for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, increased access to fisheries sector risk insurance, strengthened coastal resilience, improved waste management practices, and greater regional collaboration.
“This operation will support the sustainable development in the Eastern Caribbean by helping participating countries to better take advantage of their blue economy resources,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean. “The project is designed to address key investment priorities in each country, helping them on their path of economic recovery.”
The project invests in helping countries pivot toward a more sustainable tourism model. The decrease in tourism arrivals, due to the impact of COVID-19, offers an opportunity to work towards establishment of a more sustainable, higher-value, and more resilient industry that caters to culturally and environmentally aware and responsible visitors. Blue Tourism focuses on activities that generate low environmental impacts, conserve natural resources, and support local communities.
The expansion of women-owned and managed businesses in the blue economy is also supported by the project with introduction of a regional MSME matching grants program. Increased access to financing will also empower women active in the Blue Economy sectors to grow their businesses and increase profits. In the fisheries sector, women will be prioritized in receiving access to additional protection from gaining access to the Caribbean Ocean and Aquaculture Sustainability Facility (COAST) climate risk insurance, which protects livelihoods of fishers in the event of extreme weather events.
This project builds on the recent success of the Caribbean Regional Oceanscape Project that supported development of policies and institutional reforms to improve the sustainability of tourism assets and coastal and marine natural resources. The OECS Commission and participating UBEC countries all played a strategic role in strengthening the regional integration of those policies, and this project will enable them all to continue that work.