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UNEP Green Economy Advisory Services – Barbados

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is working with the government of Barbados to help the country realize its National Strategic Plan to build a green economy. The Green Economy Advisory Services provides governments with policy advice, technical assistance and capacity building to help governments develop and implement initiatives to transform and revitalize their economies.

For more general information on the global Green Economy Advisory Services program, click here.


Barbados’ National Strategic Plan (2006-2025) advances six goals for 2025. Goal four is: “Building a Green Economy: Strengthening the Physical Infrastructure and Preserving the Environment”. Under its Medium Term Strategic Framework, (2007-9), the Government of Barbados committed to renewable energy accounting for 30% of the island’s primary electricity by 2012. Bagasse and solar water heaters contribute 15% of the island’s primary energy supply.

Against this backdrop, UNEP partnered with the Government of Barbados as part of its Green Economy Advisory Services program. UNEP carried out a scoping mission and Green Economy Scoping Study in Bermuda. As part of this process, the Green Economy Technical Steering Committee was created, composed of government institutions, trade unions, NGOs, the business sector and the University of the West Indies – Cave Hill Campus technical team. Its role was to ensure the technical oversight of the study.

Green Economy Scoping Study

The growth of a vibrant green agricultural industry can lead to economic growth in other sectors of Barbados’ economy. The industry plays a critical role in maintaining green spaces and the overall environment that visitors expect of a tourist destination. The development of green agriculture, however, also creates avenues for growth in energy production and waste management. A comprehensive and integrated green agriculture development plan will therefore be required.
In relation to opportunities for growth, the greening of a restructured sugarcane industry is likely to reverse the negative outlook for the industry.Other growth opportunities identified include:

  • Increased production of locally produced fertilizers, soil conditioners and animal feeds.
  • A switch to organic farming would buttress economic growth in the local agricultural sector and contribute to poverty alleviation.

Fisheries play a major role in food security and in the economic, nutritional and cultural well-being of Caribbean countries. Current status and trends of coastal and marine resources in the region point to increasing pressure on the industry. In Barbados, fisheries have been an important part of the national economy and culture from the earliest recorded times, but are currently under-performing economically and socially.The sustainability of Barbados’ fishing industry is inextricably linked to that of the Caribbean, given that the Caribbean Sea is essentially a common resource. A number of innovative management and governance tools are available that can be used to move Barbados’ fishing industry to a green sector that delivers higher economic and social benefits.The contributions that can be made by fisheries to economic growth and poverty reduction are in the following areas:

  • conservation of marine resources;
  • capacity building;
  • credit finance;
  • better communication and coordination among the economic sectors;
  • collaboration in the management and development of trans-boundary marine resources.

Barbados’ over-reliance on imported fossil fuels has led it to explore renewable energy options. The country has an enviable record of solar water heaters, with an estimated 40 000 solar systems in operation, 75 per cent of which are in residential use. The prospect of green building offers the possibility of improving resource efficiency, reducing waste and the use of toxic substances, enhancing water efficiency and sustainable site development, as well as raising the consciousness of practitioners in the construction industry and house owners so that they become more discriminating in their selection of green materials when building. In addition, green building offers general ameliorations in indoor environmental quality.

The transport sector consists of methods of transportation (private and public vehicles, cars and lorries), roads, trails, sidewalks and fuels. The introduction of green approaches in all of these areas would yield, among others, environmental benefits associated with a lower level of GHG emissions and discharge of fewer toxic contaminants into the atmosphere than that obtained with the current reliance on gasoline and diesel vehicles. It is anticipated, therefore, that the use of alternative fuel vehicles would reduce negative impacts on air quality, the environment, public health and the economy as a whole, and would increase Barbados’ contribution to the mitigation of global warming.

Since the 1970s, tourism has been a key driver of economic growth in Barbados. The potential advantages of pursuing a green growth strategy in tourism can enhance the long-term sustainability of the industry, as well as act as a catalyst for the adoption of green processes and practices in supporting other related industries.The greening of tourism is likely to be a key strategy to ensure the future sustainability of the country’s industry. Opportunities identified in this area include:

  • marketing Barbados as a green destination,
  • developing heritage tourism sites,
  • building relationships between the tourism industry and firms providing inputs,
  • developing agro-tourism products and creating marine protected areas.

In addition to the island’s heritage potential, its rugged coastline, spectacular views and unique plant and wildlife all have potential for further nature-based tourism development. There is also a need to ensure that its already existing nature-based tourism products (Harrison’s Cave, Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary and the Folkestone Park and Marine Reserve) are maintained and enhanced. The opportunities for hotels to improve their resource-use efficiency are well articulated and many have been shown to be cost effective with short payback periods. These include  The Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Program.

Outputs and resources

View the full Green Economy report on Barbados here.

For more information about the Green Economy Advisory Services, go to the UNEP site.

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