Sun | Apr 11, 2021

Earth Today | Antigua inks agreement for Blue Economy Centre of Excellence

Published:Thursday | January 28, 2021 | 12:11 AM
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The UWI, holds up a copy of the MOU for the Centre for Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy.
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The UWI, holds up a copy of the MOU for the Centre for Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy.

THE GOVERNMENT of Antigua and Barbuda together with the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) have signed a memorandum of understanding to formalise their collaboration in support of a Centre for Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy.

The centre, to be sited at the UWI Five Islands Campus in Antigua, will aim to advance intellectual progress and strengthen institutional capacity in the areas of marine science and the blue economy while benefiting from the societal, economic and environmental opportunities for the Caribbean within this emerging sector.

Antigua and Barbuda as well as the Caribbean region stand to benefit from an emerging industry worth US$2.5 trillion globally through the sustainable diversification of the economy into areas such as aquaculture, marine renewable energy, biotechnology and sea vegetable farming. As a ‘large ocean state’, Antigua and Barbuda has been active in key blue economy initiatives, including co-championing the Commonwealth Blue Charter’s Sustainable Blue Economy Action Group, which encourages better stewardship of ‘blue resources’.

“The UWI Five Islands Campus is an investment in the youth of Antigua and Barbuda and the Eastern Caribbean. My Government’s support for this Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy is predicated on our vision to provide easier access to quality training and new knowledge at a tertiary level for our people,” noted Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne.

“Its realisation will require our collective ingenuity and commitment to identify and secure the necessary resources to advance this important ambition. I therefore invite all present today to partner with us in a tangible and efficacious manner to establish this centre in short order,” he added at the recent signing ceremony.

Leading Institution in Climate Action

This vision builds on The UWI’s wider reputation as a leading institution in climate action. The UWI’s advocacy on the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Development Agenda have received global acknowledgement.

“We are an activist university, tackling all of the big challenges facing our region, and committed to serving the development needs of our people. Expectedly, therefore, The UWI has been at the forefront of teaching, research and advocacy on sustainable development and climate action in the Caribbean for many decades,” said Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, vice-chancellor of The UWI.

“Our years of significant contributions have earned us recognition as the global leader in the mobilisation of research and advocacy for a climate-smart world. It is a designation we have proudly accepted with a deep sense of commitment. In furtherance of that commitment, we embrace this opportunity to mobilise our expertise as we work alongside our governments and partners in this area of critical importance to the sustainability and competitiveness of the Caribbean,” he added.

As the oldest university network in the world, dedicated to making the world a better place through cooperation in higher education, the Association of Commonwealth Universities is uniquely placed to leverage its international academic networks in support of this vision.

According to Professor Sir Ed Byrne AC, Chair of the ACU, “None of the Sustainable Development Goals can be achieved without higher education. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda’s vision to develop a Centre of Excellence in Oceanography and the Blue Economy at The UWI Five Islands Campus is a key example of this, and we welcome the Government putting higher education at the heart of their approach.”