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C'bean countries urged to participate in 'blue economy' challenge

Monday, September 24, 2018

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — Caribbean countries are being urged to submit proposals for funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) which on Monday launched its “Blue Tech Challenge” with up to two million US dollars in funding.

The IDB said it hopes to identify firms and organisations looking to pilot and scale up business models that use cutting edge technologies to contribute to the sustainable management of oceans, marine ecosystems and coastal resources.

The Blue Tech Challenge seeks to support business models that apply new technologies to deliver products and/or solutions that foster the long-term sustainability of the ocean economy in the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The IDB said that the qualifying entities will be considered to implement a development project to pilot the blue economy model in one of the 14 target countries.

“The funding requests should be within a range of US$150,000 to US$500,000 for non-reimbursable technical assistance (grants). Proposals for loans should be within a range of US$500,000 to US$2,000,000 and the proponent entity should contribute with at least 50 per cent of the project budget,” it said.

The IDB said the project is undertaken through its Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), Natural Capital Lab, Sustainable Islands Platform, and in alliance with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility, which is also supported by Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Canadian government.

It said that the Sustainable Development Goals recognise the critical contribution the ocean makes to the world economy, and specifically to the development of the smallest and most vulnerable nations.

“In most Caribbean island countries, close to 100 per cent of the population depend on the oceans for their basic livelihood, food security, and economic development. Yet, over-exploitation of marine ecosystems and increased pollution are causing damage to ocean ecosystems and natural capital.

“The “blue economy” concept emerges as a unique opportunity to address sustainable management of oceans and marine ecosystems countries, as well as a promising avenue for economic diversification and sustainable growth,” the IDB said.

It said that since every sector of the blue economy is affected by the technological advances, it is essential to take advantage of this trend to pilot new approaches, develop new materials, and implement novel approaches that deliver pragmatic and tangible solutions for business models that, at the same time, foster the long-term sustainability of the ocean economy.

“Qualifying entities will be considered by to receive financing and/or technical assistance to implement a pilot for the blue economy model proposed in one of the target countries. Qualifying entities will also become part of the IDB Group's network of global innovators working in the Caribbean region poised to exchange knowledge, expertise, best practices, and with ample opportunities to participate in IDBG's related regional networking events.”

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