New Caribbean centre for oceanography, blue economy welcomed

19 January 2021

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has welcomed plans to establish a new Centre of Excellence in Oceanography and the Blue Economy at the University of West Indies Five Islands Campus in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, which co-chairs the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on Sustainable Blue Economy, the University of the West Indies and the Association of Commonwealth Universities agreed to work together towards this goal, with a memorandum of understanding signed today.

The Centre will aim to advance intellectual progress and strengthen institutional capacity in the areas of marine science and the blue economy for the Caribbean region.

Signed by Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies Hilary Beckles and Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities Ed Byrne, the MoU also allows the three parties to develop joint research, training and capacity-building programmes, as well as share academic and educational content.

Hailing the initiative, Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is co-champion of the Action Group on Sustainable Blue Economy, and the bold initiative of developing a Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy…will build in new ways on this commendable commitment.

“This new Centre of Excellence will be a fresh expression of our longstanding Commonwealth concern for the environment, including our ocean, and the clarion call to action made in the Langkawi Declaration on the Environment from the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as long ago as 1989.”

She stressed the Commonwealth Secretariat’s “wholehearted support”, adding: “I welcome the new opportunities for Commonwealth cooperation which the Centre will open up and mobilise – particularly for our young people.”

As part of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, Antigua and Barbuda (alongside Kenya) co-champions member-driven actions that encourage better stewardship of the ocean’s ‘blue resources’ and marine environment.

Launched in 2018, the Commonwealth Blue Charter is a commitment by leaders of the organisation’s 54 member countries to actively collaborate on solving ocean-related challenges.

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