Charting a Sustainable Path in Blue and Green Economies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

From May 24-30,  2024, I had the privilege of participating in the SIDS4 Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Antigua, starting with my involvement in the Global Business Network Forum as the Executive Director/Owner of Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts. This role allowed me to contribute insights from the private sector, emphasizing sustainable tourism and eco-friendly business practices. I was proud to highlight some of the successes at our resorts, anchored in a philosophy that intertwines local economic benefits with environmental stewardship. This includes innovative water and wastewater management and the establishment of two coral nurseries, which offer education and active engagement to our guests and community stakeholders alike. Our five-decade-long commitment to ‘Buy Local, Promote Local, Celebrate Local’ has bolstered local employment and reduced our environmental footprint.


Transition to a Broader Role:

Following the business forum, my role shifted as I attended the main SIDS 4 conference in the non-governmental organization (NGO) category as the Chair of the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF). In this capacity, the CBF team and I networked, contributed to, and hosted various panel sessions, and most importantly, advocated broadly for biodiversity preservation, climate change adaptation, and nature-based solutions across Caribbean SIDS. The CBF provides a vital link between local initiatives and regional conservation efforts. This dual participation enriched the dialogue at both events, highlighting the interconnectedness of economic sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Challenges in Funding:

Navigating the complex interplay between environmental preservation and economic resilience in SIDS demands innovative and sustainable approaches. One of the recurring themes for many NGOs, but also governments, is the lack of available funding on the ground.

At first glance, there appears to be substantial funding available, but the methodologies, policies, and processes involved for funds to be disbursed are burdensome and, at this stage, the biggest hindrance in accelerating regional efforts in the blue and green sphere.

This challenge was recognized at the conference over and over, and the ball is definitely in the court of the international funding agencies and governments to review the current processes and come up with a more enabling and effective framework.

shot from sids

Technical Skills Gap:

On top of it, many NGOs acknowledged that they lack technical skills in grant proposal writing, which is a frustrating gap in our capacity to attract funding.

One of the outcomes of information sharing at some conferences is that it is evident that the challenges are not unique and that overcoming the lack of technical skills and capacity building many of these NGOs could make important and broad contributions to accelerate the implementation of blue and green strategies for the betterment of our island communities and future generations.

karolin speaking

Successful Collaborations:

Above all, it is not only evident but also imperative that the public and private sectors come together in various partnerships to be effective in driving progress forward.

Also, there are amazing NGOs in the Caribbean that are ready and willing to work in unison with their respective governments to take on some of the project implementation. Look, for example, at the network of National Conservation Trust Funds that have partnership agreements with the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund.

These 11 NCTF’s form a robust network known as the Caribbean Sustainable Finance Architecture, which aims to foster a structured and sustained financing approach for environmental initiatives across the Caribbean. The CBF and its partner NCTFs work closely to implement various projects that help conserve and protect biodiversity hotspots throughout the Caribbean. This collaborative framework not only ensures the effective management of conservation funds but also enhances the capacity of local organizations to execute impactful environmental projects.

karolin speaking

Conclusion and Personal Note:

All together, we need to overcome the lack of information sharing, the duplications of efforts in the region, and above all, we must showcase and celebrate more effectively the inspiring successes and best practices that no doubt exist in the Caribbean and across the globe.

In one of the panels, I recommended the creation of country and regional Blue-Green Vision Commissions to close the gaps with focus on creating an enabling environment for progress in the blue and green spheres and ensuring continuity in environmental strategies irrespective of political shifts that may occur every five years with the current electoral cycle. A Blue – Green Development Fund is needed with special attention paid to our SMME’s (Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises): make capital available to them on basis of good business plans rather than requiring the traditional collateral. E-commerce and online payment solutions must be found. We need match- making platforms to connect projects and initiatives with donor funding.

To accelerate progress, we also need assistance in advocating to remove or adapt restrictive legislative frameworks which can impede the implementation of sustainable strategies. It is astounding that in 2024, as we battle heat waves around the globe and wish to come up with sustainable solutions, we are still restricted in introducing renewables into our electricity grids, as is the case in Saint Lucia and also on some other Caribbean islands.

Participating in forums such as the SIDS4 Global Business Network Forum has been an excellent opportunity to discussing how SIDS can leverage international funding and partnerships.

Our exchanges also highlighted the importance of integrating local communities and indigenous knowledge into sustainability projects, ensuring that initiatives are culturally sensitive and community-driven. Encouraging the next generation to engage with blue and green economies is critical.

Through educational programs and mentorships, we must aim to nurture a new generation of environmental stewards.

Additionally, harnessing technology and innovation, such as AI for environmental monitoring and apps that support sustainable tourism and measure our achievements, can significantly advance our blue and green economy goals.

As we advance, it is imperative for all stakeholders in SIDS to adopt a unified approach to sustainability, nurturing an environment that promotes innovation and community engagement. I am thrilled to continue contributing to this dialogue, sharing my experiences, and learning from others at international forums.

In conclusion, fostering robust blue and green economies in SIDS is a challenging yet rewarding journey.

It requires a blend of innovation, collaboration, and dedicated stewardship—a commitment I am proud to champion in my ongoing efforts to ensure a sustainable future for our island nations.

Investing my time in leadership positions both locally across the Caribbean region, and globally through my role on the board of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), has been immensely rewarding. I believe that each of us has an opportunity to contribute, and I hope to inspire and encourage others to do so. We need all hands on deck to save our SIDS. And yes, we should redefine all SIDS as Large Ocean States.

By redefining Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as Large Ocean States, we acknowledge their vast marine territories that extend far beyond their land areas. This shift highlights their significant role in managing global biodiversity, climate regulation, and oceanic resources. It repositions SIDS as central players in sustainable ocean governance, empowering them with an identity that reflects their expansive potential and critical environmental stewardship responsibilities.


What is SIDS4: The SIDS4, or the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, is a significant event convened by the United Nations and Member States. It took place from May 27 to 30, 2024, in St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. The conference was set under the overarching theme of “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity.” – to assess the ability of Small Island Developing States to achieve sustainable development, including their progress toward the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SIDS4 conference brought together national, regional, and local governments, non-governmental organizations, community groups, research institutions, academia, the private sector, international financial institutions, foundations, the media, and United Nations organizations. The conference served as a platform to discuss and address the unique and pressing challenges faced by Small Island Developing States. These challenges include vulnerability to climate change, economic and social repercussions of global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and specific developmental needs related to their geographical and economic contexts.

The SIDS4 conference is a continuation of a series of international efforts to provide a collaborative, supportive community that addresses the specific needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS, promoting resilience and sustainable development across these unique regions.



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