Officials from a Global Environmental Facility paid a visit to Cabinet on Saturday with hopes of introducing Antigua and Barbuda to a new initiative aimed at assisting the country in transitioning into a marine friendly country.
Officials from the Blue Finance Economy, a program supported by the United Nations Environmental Protection (UNEP) agency made a preposition to government officials last weekend to demonstrate the ability of the state to turn protected marine ecosystems and other land-based protected areas into profit centers, while maintaining the pristine quality of the areas.
According to Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information while speaking during the government’s post-cabinet briefing this morning said that the presentation was well received in light of the project improving the country’s tourism product.
“We saw a presentation as to how we can utilize the natural environment and look at the possibilities of investment for this type of facilities in our protected areas without doing any harm or altering to the state of our environment in these protected areas and so that was a very good presentation and goes well for the type of diversity with the type of tourism product and for future investment opportunities,” the minister said.
There are nine protected areas in and around Antigua, and six on Barbuda and it is estimated that tourism attractiveness of the areas will generate jobs; revenue for coastal fishers; coastal protection for beaches and adjoining real estate which will help to avoid damage that would otherwise grow over time. It will also act as a protection to build resilience to global climate change.
The Blue Finance Economy Group estimates that an upfront investment of $8 million dollars and $2 million in annual costs would yield an annual profit, in addition to the non-monetary benefits.
According to Cabinet notes, the model to be adopted would be a public/private partnership (PPP) that would involve a multiplicity of interests. The notes added that UNEP would be pivotal in designing and helping to ensure proper placement of the centers.