Minister showcases Bermuda’s blue economy at international conference
Bermuda’s work in developing a blue economy has been showcased during a weeklong UN Ocean Conference by the home affairs minster, Walter Roban.
Mr Roban said the conference, which took place from June 26 to July 1 in Lisbon, Portugal, was “an excellent opportunity to showcase what Bermuda has done” including the development of a marine spatial plan.
One event organised by the French government promoted the SARGADOM project, which aims to help protect biodiversity and ecosystem services in the high seas on the Thermal Dome in the Pacific and the Sargasso Sea in the Atlantic.
Mr Roban, who was accompanied on the trip by Tammy Warren, the Government’s senior marine resources officer, said: "High seas governance has been described as an ‘unfinished agenda’ with a patchwork of organisations with competency over different aspects of high seas ecosystems.
“However, with the SARGADOM project, we are making progress in addressing this.”
He said two grants, one from the Global Environment Facility and another from the French Facility for Global Environment, would allow the Sargasso Sea Commission, a conservation collaboration operating as a legal entity under Bermudian and US law, to undertake the first ecosystem diagnostic analysis of a high seas system.
Mr Roban also attended the Blue Prosperity Leadership Forum led by Ted Waitt, the Waitt Institute founder and chair. The forum brought together heads of delegations, key technical staff members and core Blue Prosperity Coalition partners.
Mr Roban also spoke at the Blue Economy Investment Forum, during which potential new funding sources to support Bermuda’s blue economy work were discussed. International participants of the forum included the World Wildlife Fund and the Kenyan government.
Mr Roban added: "As part of the SARGADOM project, the Sargasso Sea Commission will also work with stakeholders to create a plan for the conservation and stewardship of the Sargasso Sea.
“With Bermuda located in the western part of the Sargasso, this project and increasing the number of member countries is important to all of us as it will help further protect our precious marine resources."
Mr Roban met European Parliament members Pierre Karleskind, chair of the Committee on Fisheries, and Catherine Chabaud, member of the Development, Environment, and Fisheries committees, to advocate for the recognition and eventual support for EU membership of the Sargasso Sea Commission and their signing of the Hamilton Declaration 2014.
Mr Roban said: "As a small island nation, climate change environmental protection and sustainability are vital to our future. This event has allowed me to meet and speak with leaders and influencers in environmental protection and sustainability about the urgent need to act now."