3. Cross-cutting Conditions and Enabling Actions

This section describes the main issues and opportunities in Antigua and Barbuda relevant to the seven enabling factors which play a foundational role in the SBE-TF. It is based on information gathered through desk-based review, stakeholder surveys, workshops and interviews.

3.1 Leadership

Strong leadership is key to driving meaningful, collaborative and co-ordinated change, especially within a twin-island nation such as Antigua and Barbuda. It should come from the highest levels to steer cross-governmental action. High-level statements and political commitment have been set out by the Minister of MoSTBE, Hon Dean Jonas, and have been well publicised. However, while the DoBE within the MoSTBE exists, its mandate is new, unclear to other departments and untested. Among some of the more established government departments, there is a lack of confidence in the ability of DoBE to act as leading convenor in the transition to a SBE, including navigating the overlapping responsibilities and roles across relevant departments. Combined with limited resourcing, these factors undermine the leadership role that the DoBE was instituted to take.

The Ministry of Education should be involved. We are not grooming the next generation of leaders to take ownership of the blue economy. Share on Twitter
Participant response

Cross-governmental collaboration and co-ordination are needed to unify SBE sectors across government. Co-ordination is currently limited. Not all departments are aware of their role in the SBE and are thus limited in their engagement with the DoBE or involvement in other SBE-related activities. This includes, for example, key departments such as the Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Education which, while not directly involved in maritime activities, play a critical role on outreach-related matters and in educating the next generation of SBE leaders. Such difficulties are exacerbated by the DoBE’s lack of mandate, including how it fits with other departments and agencies.

Effective leadership for the SBE agenda is contingent on a clear, overarching vision in Antigua and Barbuda. This vision and definition should be developed and agreed upon through consultation with relevant government departments and key non-governmental stakeholders to ensure buy-in and collective ownership. As in many countries, there is limited understanding of what a blue economy means in practice, as identified by workshop participants and survey results. Several related workshops and conferences have contributed to growing general awareness of the SBE, but follow up and further work on these has been limited (Appendix 5).

Limited understanding of different sectoral involvement in the SBE underpins many challenges, such as the lack of clarity surrounding roles, responsibilities and expectations. Cross-governmental advocacy is needed to raise awareness of the role various government departments and policy areas play in the SBE. This role is assigned to the DoBE in the MEP, but activity in this area could be strengthened.

Political emphasis on the SBE has raised awareness of the existence of work towards an SBE for the country, as has the presence of a dedicated department (the DoBE). Thus, while awareness of the exact definition and scope of the SBE remains low at institutional and sectoral levels, existing awareness of the concept among the general population provides a basis for engaging a range of stakeholders in ongoing discussions.

Regionally, there is an opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to act as a pioneer for the wider Caribbean region, especially given its role as co-champion of the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Group on the SBE. There are lessons to be learned from elements of the SBE activity exhibited in other Caribbean island nations such as Grenada and Saint Lucia, which could be compiled to inform decisions by GoAB. But there is an overarching gap in regional leadership that, with the support of the OECS, Antigua and Barbuda is well positioned to fill, particularly given the development of the Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy.


A lack of clear, formal mandate for the DoBE, or allocation of resources, to act as leading convenor in the transition to a sustainable SBE limits proactive leadership (see also sections 3.2 and 3.5 on institutional infrastructure and sustainable finance respectively).

While there is government commitment to an SBE at the highest levels, there remains a disconnect between activities in the SBE governance space, with varying agendas and no overarching or agreed vision.

Limited understanding of the definition of the SBE underpins many of the challenges identified, such as the lack of clarity surrounding roles, responsibilities and expectations within SBE sectors resulting in disjointed efforts and activities occurring in siloes.

There are concerns that some key departments are not aware of their integral role in transitioning to the SBE (such as tourism) resulting in challenges with responses to, or engagement with, the DoBE or other SBE activities, limiting effectiveness of the DoBE.

Ensuring that leadership is representative of both Antigua and Barbuda is challenging but essential to develop the SBE for the nation in a co-ordinated and collaborative way.


  • A dedicated department (the DoBE) exists, as well as cross-governmental mechanisms (the NOGC) that could provide leadership for the SBE transition at all levels if operating effectively and collaboratively.
  • General awareness by the population of some SBE activity due to the presence of the MoSTBE and associated statements (even though there might not be unified understanding) presents a basis for developing engagement with stakeholders at all levels.
  • The DoBE has potential to strengthen cross-governmental advocacy and raise awareness of the role various government departments play in the SBE, if technical capacity is increased.
  • Formalising a mandate for the DoBE for delivering an SBE transition, accompanied by appropriate resourcing, would send a strong message of commitment and leadership that would help to generate support and engagement from other government departments.
  • There is potential for Antigua and Barbuda to develop as a regional leader of the SBE, with the support of the OECS and the new Centre of Excellence for Oceanography and the Blue Economy at UWI.

3.2 Institutional infrastructure and culture

With the drive for diversification of the SBE, it will become increasingly necessary that management interventions in marine areas are agreed upon collaboratively, to reduce conflict and negotiate the inevitable trade-offs that will be encountered in Antigua and Barbuda’s ocean space.

At national level, the NOGC was established in 2014 and is endorsed by cabinet with clear terms of reference (TOR)[17] and a chair who reports directly to the cabinet. The NOGC was charged with responsibility for delivering the NOP (although this is yet to be endorsed, finalised and adopted), as well as ‘overseeing broader aspects of ocean governance relevant to the sustainable development of Antigua and Barbuda including regional/international issues’. The NOGC has maintained relatively frequent activity, although limited during the COVID-19 pandemic, but presents a strong communication mechanism according to workshop participants. It is currently chaired by the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS), which has operated in the maritime and ocean governance space prior to the first major political SBE commitments in 2020, and contributed significantly to the development of the MEP. ADOMS works closely with the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard (ABDFCG), Department of Fisheries, the Port Authority and National Parks Authority, and communication links exist between these and the NOGC.

These institutional arrangements are seen as the ministerial- or agency-level platforms for cross-sectoral and cross-agency implementation and oversight of an SBE. The creation of the DoBE within the MoSTBE, following a recommendation made in the MEP gap analysis[18] in 2021, has generated much concern among those already operating in this space, particularly as members of the NOGC highlighted in the consultations that they had little to no input into the formation of the DoBE.[19] As such, institutional memory and ongoing SBE-relevant activities have not been transferred, nor the remit of the DoBE integrated within the strategy of other departments and ministries relevant to the SBE.

While there is a perceived overlap of roles between the NOGC and the DoBE that has created uncertainty over ultimate responsibilities, the DoBE is clearly mandated to deliver to MoSTBE, whereas the NOGC has a different expectation: to act as a national inter-ministerial co-ordinating body. The concept of multiple departments and agencies working towards an SBE is vital to help support and bolster efforts on ocean governance-related matters and is achievable if actions are strategically aligned and co-ordinated in an easy-to-implement manner. As set out in its TOR, being representative of all ministries and with the legislative mandate to oversee SBE activities, the NOGC should have lead role in implementing the draft NOP. When the NOP is finalised, endorsed and mandated, this should guide national activities pertaining to an SBE transition. Participants thought that the DoBE could play a critical role working on behalf of the NOGC to better align functions and simplify collaborative and communication processes, while using the expertise and relationships across government that exist already within the NOGC and wider OECS region.

In practice, some institutional frameworks are not fully implemented in Antigua and Barbuda due to a lack of technical capacity. In many instances, the technical capacity exists, but the distribution of this capacity is often limited to one department due to a lack of flexibility and siloed system. Sharing knowledge and technical skills across departments should be designed into the institutional structure. This will make best use of funds and minimise the need for external consultants. There is a need for capacity-building to ensure that the DoBE is equipped to support the transition to an SBE given the newness of the ministry and the small size of the department.

Overall, while feedback from participants suggested that inter-departmental co-operation and communication between some policy areas is well-maintained, there is a crucial need to clarify roles and responsibilities, and develop better cross-government co-ordination to ensure policy coherence. Relationship-building between agencies is essential for all involved to understand how agencies interact and to work together effectively.


  • overlap in responsibility of NOGC and DoBE, leading to uncertainty and a lack of clarity regarding roles limiting progress;
  • lack of mandated, cross-departmental co-ordination to support SBE activities;
  • need to improve inter-departmental and inter-agency co-operation, collaboration and frequent communication to support an effective transition to an SBE – the NOGC provides a foundation for inter-departmental engagement – a critical role that needs to be strengthened;
  • lack of accountability in the institutional infrastructure where ‘money talks’ and investments into development may be accepted even where negative ecological and social impacts are indicated. In some instances officials are appointed rather than elected, indicating the need for constitutional change to be more democratic and accountable to society;
  • frequent changing of staff across GoAB which reduces effectiveness and capacity-building; and
  • limited technical capacity within departments, especially the DoBE given its newness and small size.


  • Building on established communication and co-ordination mechanisms will focus and clarify the role of the NOGC as central to delivery of the SBE.
  • Establishing the DoBE as a secretariat of the NOGC and clarifying the remit of the DoBE will minimise the overlap of responsibilities and provide a precise role with a clear mandate.
  • Across the NOGC and DoBE there is opportunity to include other agencies and actors for improved cross-governmental collaboration namely:
    • the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance – essential for ensuring synergies with proposed SBE activities channelling resources to ensure their long-term viability;
    • the Ministry of Education – awareness of dependency on coastal and marine environments needs to be ingrained at a much deeper level to ensure that future leaders consider the effects of activities on their environment and society;
    • the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries – inclusion of Agriculture, beyond the fisheries division has been highlighted, particularly to address land/sea issues;
    • increased representation from Barbuda to ensure effective participation in decision-making;
    • national Parks Authority – plays an essential role in managing protected areas; and
    • private sector.
  • Sharing knowledge and technical skills across departments could maximise limited financial and human resources.
  • The DOALAS Ocean Governance Study (2022 draft) sets out a detailed institutional review which identifies gaps and indicates where strengthening is needed that could be used as a starting point in reconfiguring institutional infrastructure to be more efficient and effective.

3.3 Laws and policies

The NOP, in accordance with the ECROP (2013), is designed to guide the development of the SBE in Antigua and Barbuda with a forward-looking sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources. However, while the NOP was drafted in 2021, it has not yet been formally adopted by parliament. There is, therefore, no national framework to accompany a transition to an SBE nor clear guidance (or mandate) for its implementation .

There is no legislation to govern the use of marine environment as it relates to tourism. In many instances there are reports [of environmental issues] from operators but these can’t be enforced legally. Share on Twitter
Participant response

Beyond the draft NOP, Antigua and Barbuda has enacted many policies, statutes and regulations in several areas. These have the potential to support the transition to an SBE. Key legislation includes the Maritime Areas Act (1982), the Merchant Shipping Act (2006), the Fisheries Act (2006) and the Environmental Protection and Management Act (MEPA) (2019). Those relevant to maritime security include the Defence Act (2006), and the Maritime Piracy Act (2013). Given that tourism is the dominant sector in Antigua and Barbuda, the lack of specific legislation to govern the use of the marine environment and coastal resources as it relates to tourism is a major concern. For a more extensive list of relevant policies and legislation, see Appendix 2 and the DOALAS draft report.


Figure 3.1: Participant responses to the question, ‘In your view, are existing government structures sufficient to deliver a transition to an SBE?’

The existing legislation is not viewed by participants as sufficiently effective, with specific mention of a lack of implementation or enforcement. Furthermore, as is common for many countries, legislation and policies relating to the SBE are fragmented and lack a coherent, cross-sectoral approach (see section 3.4 on planning and management). There are differing priority areas between the draft NOP and the CMEP, as well as with the indicated emphasis by GoAB to explore deep-seabed mining.[20] Workshop participants did not think this was well aligned to sustainability within an SBE agenda. This indicates the lack of a formally adopted national SBE strategy or priorities to unify the governance framework and to ensure interlinked, coherent laws and policies. That said, the cross-cutting role of the ocean is recognised and reflected across key legislation, policies and strategies. For example, the need to preserve and enhance key coastal and marine habitats for the purpose of climate-change mitigation is recognised in the Environmental Protection and Management Act (2019) as are the co-benefits for adaptation, resilience, biodiversity enhancement, food security and sustainable livelihoods.

When considering the expansion of existing sectors or diversification into new ones, regulatory frameworks are needed to safeguard the environment and society prior to activity, to avoid unintended long-term consequences. In Antigua and Barbuda, this is relevant for emerging sectors such as seabed mining or exploration for marine biopharmaceuticals. There are also notable gaps in the national framework for managing coastal and marine resources as highlighted in the draft Ocean Governance Study by DOALOS (2022) which looks at the national framework in relation to UNCLOS.[21] In this regard, and when considering the national needs of the country, Antigua and Barbuda would benefit from additional legislative drafting resources, training and funding. This would increase capacity to ensure that national frameworks not only support effective transition to an SBE but are also in accordance with international legislation.

We are unsure about whether the existing legislation is sufficient to cover the impacts of the new industries proposed in the blue economy such as seabed mining and exploration. At a very minimum, the existing environmental legislation should be applied, but enforcement is currently weak. Share on Twitter
Participant response

There is some despondency among participants regarding the legislative process, where for example, the Environmental Protection and Management Act (2019) took close to 20 years to progress from the Bill stage to enactment, and is still not effectively implemented. In addition, there are concerns that legislated, regulatory processes for decision-making and prioritisation in the marine space are frequently over-ridden or bypassed in favour of economic interest, private sector influence, or short-term gains that lack consideration for long-term sustainability.


  • As the NOP remains draft, there is no national framework to sustainably manage ocean and marine resources in an SBE, and thus no clear mandate for its implementation.
  • Slow passage of policies and legislation through parliament generates despondency and leads to ineffective management.
  • The existing fragmented, sectoral approach to governance is insufficient to manage the numerous, interdependent issues of an SBE.
    • The disconnect between priorities outlined in different strategies and departments (such as those of the MEP and draft NOP) has led to an incoherent approach.
    • There is some misalignment on SBE priorities between Barbuda and Antigua which need to be considered in overarching SBE laws and policies.
    • The repeal of the Barbuda Land Act in 2018 has generated sentiments by Barbudans that their rights are threatened for the sake of development agendas. This decreases the necessary stakeholder buy-in needed to comply with any (new or existing) laws or policies that constrain the use of land or resources.
    • Short-term economic interests often outweigh long-term sustainability in decision-making in both Antigua and Barbuda.


  • The MEP (2021) is cabinet-endorsed, and could act as a good starting point for an integrated, strategic action plan to guide SBE development.
  • Legal frameworks for new sectors should be put in place prior to expansion, especially those with significant impacts on the environment and society (e.g. seabed mining). The existing legislation for environmental protection, such as the MEPA (2019) provides the foundation for this, and highlights the commitment by GoAB to ensuring sustainability.
  • Further legislative drafting resources, training and funding would help bolster the capacity needed to generate an integrated legal framework.
  • Formally adopting the NOP opens up significant opportunities to receive technical, and potentially financial, support from the OECS within the ECROP programme or other donor mechanisms.

3.4 Planning and management

Given the significant competition for marine space between sectors, and the dependence of Antigua and Barbuda’s economic, social and environmental wellbeing on marine ecosystem services, coherent, integrated marine management is essential for an SBE transition.

There is no legislated national integrated marine management framework that includes either Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) or marine spatial planning (MSP) at national level in Antigua and Barbuda. The MEP attempts to outline a starter framework for integrated marine management, and highlights key areas where the intervention of MSP would strengthen the national ocean governance framework. This is, however, yet to be applied.

Barbuda adopted the Coastal Zoning and Management Regulations in 2014. The regulations delimit areas of activity within Barbuda’s waters (up to three nautical miles from the coastline), including seagrass and mangrove protection, fishing activity, shipping activity, and research. This was established after a year of intensive community engagement under the Blue Halo Initiative.22 Under these regulations, a map is to be maintained with geographical co-ordinates to identify the exact location where activities are allowed.[23] The Barbuda Council continues to struggle with enforcement and compliance. The adopted plans were designed specifically to not require any legal changes at the national level, given complexities in the legal authority of the Barbuda Council. This was needed to prevent delays in the process of developing the zoning regulations but limits the authority of the Barbuda Council to those set out in relevant legislation, and the zoning regulations cannot contradict national laws and regulations.

A Sustainable Island Resources Management Zoning Plan for a System of Protected Areas for Antigua and Barbuda, which aimed to establish a broad network of marine and terrestrial areas, was produced in 2011. The National Land Use Plan and the incorporation of an environmental impact assessment (EIA) process in the development of coastal areas has also sought to better manage and protect areas of the marine area.

While these planning statutes represent important initial steps towards area-based planning, they do not include major or emerging sectors, and have limited consideration for land-sea interface interactions and activities critical to effective integrated marine management. As highlighted in the MEP, MSP or other strategic planning will be essential in evaluating and zoning emerging activities (e.g. deep-seabed mining, increased yachting services) to ensure that expansion and diversification of the SBE can be carried out sustainably.

At national level, there has been some MSP training, but action on this has not progressed as it is unclear where responsibility among ministries for MSP sits. As such, there is no agency leading the MSP process. The CMEP gap analysis (2021), which guides the activity of the DoBE, highlights the role of the DoBE in taking forward MSP efforts,[24] but there is insufficient technical capacity or knowledge within the team to do so. For this to be effective, the role and mandate of the DoBE need to be clarified to allow it to make progress (see section 3.2 on institutional infrastructure). A central repository or national framework for data is essential (see section 3.7 on data and monitoring).

Access to the coastline is being limited predominantly by the foreign real-estate market and the desire to develop private coastal areas (such as private properties building docks for yachts). Workshop participants expressed concern that while permission and EIAs are needed for these developments, they are often insufficient. The need for development (of any variety) is overemphasised at present for its perceived importance to the economy. However, negotiation of trade-offs is not facilitated by an integrated decision-making process for the sustainable use of coastal resources. A cabinet approved ICZM framework that includes MSP would help inform offsetting activities and mitigation or compensation approaches in the face of needing to develop coastal areas. The Development Control Authority (DCA) has an essential role in this but would require the support of an established integrated multiagency committee to review plans in a collaborative way, ensure effective stakeholder engagement, reduce the time of the approvals process, and ensure post-approval monitoring of developments.

In practice, the management and evaluation frameworks of individual policy areas will need to be considered in an integrated way, supported by an ICZM framework with MSP, to deliver a unified and bespoke understanding and vision of the SBE (as indicated as priority in section 3.1 on leadership). Adopting this approach anchors the vision in sector-specific culture and working methods, and helps to identify and communicate short-term wins, both of which will build long-term commitment for, and acceptance of, the transition process.


  • As in many countries, a fragmented governance framework has led to a lack of coherent, integrated marine management and there is limited progress with ICZM or MSP.
  • Overlapping jurisdictions and a lack of clarity regarding which ministry is responsible for planning the defined coastal zone and marine space.
  • There is no central repository or national framework for MSP data (see section 3.7 on data and monitoring).
  • There is insufficient funding for capacity-building and human resource to support implementation of MSP, and a lack of mandate for its delivery.
  • Concerns exist about the adequacy of the EIA process for developments.


  • The DoBE could play an important role in driving forward and co-ordinating MSP, as outlined in the MEP.
  • The MEP provides a foundational framework for MSP which could be used as a starting point.
  • A national MSP process would provide greater certainty for the private sector to generate investment and steer appropriate development.
  • Establishing an integrated, multiagency mechanism, with expertise across economic, environmental and social areas, to support the DCA in a formalised process of approving development applications would increase the integrated nature of coastal land management and could be extended to cover marine space in conjunction with spatial plans.
  • MSP is already in place in Barbuda. This can be built upon and guide decision-making at national level, using Barbuda as a champion for the process.
  • Some MSP training has taken place. This could be strengthened, and skills and training provided to relevant stakeholders.

3.5 Sustainable finance

Much of the funding that is available to support sustainable development in Antigua and Barbuda is grants for time-limited projects, which can restrict and prevent momentum of innovation. Short-term funding also limits the ability to retain the experience and expertise that is built up within project teams, and can lose long-term stakeholder relationships that generate necessary trust in GoAB bodies and public sector officials. Thus, existing financial opportunities and traditional methods of funding are insufficient to maintain what currently exists, and would require significant growth to enable a transition to an SBE. This makes sustainable finance for transition a key issue.

Although several other actors (including the private sector) have power and resources and can therefore influence activity, governments control the distribution of public finance and have the power to create legislation, policy and regulation that can either support or hinder the creation of innovative sustainable finance mechanisms. A regulatory framework is needed to support the ease of doing business, including regulation on transparency and accountability.

The recent OECD re-classification of Antigua and Barbuda as a high-income country (1 January 2022) has made it difficult to access concessional financing, despite the vulnerability of the economy to external shocks such as climate change and pandemics. At present, the main GoAB fiscal mechanisms to support SBE activities include the Consolidated Fund, Sustainable Island Resource Framework Fund and debt-for-climate swaps. Expanding revenue collection presents a challenge. The economic climate already has a very heavy tax burden on the GoAB, since tax residents pay no income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax nor wealth tax on worldwide income or assets.

The economic dominance of the tourism sector (particularly cruise tourism) has resulted in the de-prioritisation of investment in, and sustainable development of, other sectors that, despite lower contributions to GDP, provide essential national safeguarding through food security, national security and livelihoods (e.g. fisheries, ports and shipping). Some sectors may also be significantly undervalued in terms of GDP, employment and subsistence due to a lack of funding directed towards consistent monitoring and reporting (for example, fisheries data which are gathered at only a restricted number of sites) combined with insufficient regulation. More accurate evaluation of sectors and socioeconomic and environmental impact studies of expanding or emerging sectors could help to engender political buy-in for rapid action on economic diversification beyond policy rhetoric. Priorities for financing in an SBE should consider sustainable fisheries and tourism, resilient port and coastal infrastructure, marine renewable energy and increasing marine citizenship. The tourism industry should be part of the solution in financing sustainable growth given the critical role of the private sector in this key sector. Public-private partnerships have a critical role to play in the planned expansion of the sector.

A range of investment options to improve sustainability is outlined in plans such as the draft NOP, the 2016 to 2020 Medium Term Strategy (now out of date) and the MEP (2021). Developing a cross-sectoral investment strategy and action plan aligned with an agreed SBE vision should include provisions for ongoing management, enforcement and monitoring. It should be developed via stakeholder consultation to represent the widest range of ocean stakeholder interests, and deliver an equitable distribution of benefits. For this, the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance has an essential role in driving financing options for the transition to an SBE. The blue economy is highlighted in the 2022 budget statement ‘Setting the stage for economic rejuvenation’, and MoSTBE allocated $26.8 million for all efforts across social transformation, human resource development and the blue economy. Furthermore, climate resilience is heavily integrated into the budget statement. This is intrinsically linked to an SBE given the dependency of SBE sectors on healthy, resilient ecosystems. Therefore, any developments need to be following a path of resiliency. For example, investment in climate resilience continues to be a priority from donor organisations. Ongoing efforts to leverage donor resources and other international financing are crucial given the large investment needs and limited fiscal space. The National Adaptation Plan (NAP) is expected to be completed by June 2023. This will help co-ordinate and focus donor efforts on key priorities, and incorporate climate resilience considerations into the development strategy and budget process. The transition to an SBE needs to embed its ideas within the details of the NAP to ensure longer-term funding.

As of 2022, Antigua and Barbuda is no longer eligible for Official Development Assistance (ODA). This has had a significant impact on the ability to mobilise financing. However, the country may still access international development aid from countries that do not follow the OECD guidance, namely China, if secured in a manner that ensures national sustainability principles are upheld. Further opportunity exists in that Antigua and Barbuda is eligible for international funding mechanisms, including the Green Climate Fund (GCF), The Adaptation Fund (AF), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and ProBlue. However, application processes are burdensome and require capacity and resources that are currently lacking.


  • There is a severe and systemic lack of funding for SBE expansion beyond the tourism sector.
  • Cycles of funding can weaken long-term relationships with institutions and make it difficult to generate trust.
  • Persistent ‘parachute’ funding makes it difficult to maintain established mechanisms, technical skills and stakeholder buy-in beyond the end of projects, and this limits the nation’s ability to encourage investment.
  • Classification as a high-income country makes it difficult to access concessional financing while remaining vulnerable to external shocks.
  • External funding could be deterred by Antigua and Barbuda’s World Bank ease of doing business index score, which needs to improve significantly.
  • There is limited data on risks and investment opportunities on the SBE for private sector/financial institutions.
  • The economy was hit severely by COVID-19 meaning lenders may hesitate to provide funding before it comes to a full state of recovery.


  • expanding the role of the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance given its essential role in working across government to develop sustainable financing options to drive the transition to an SBE;
  • including the tourism industry in finding solutions to finance innovation and growth;
  • harnessing innovative financing mechanisms to expand Antigua and Barbuda’s SBE, such as placing natural assets on the stock exchange and payments for ecosystem services;
  • developing a regulatory framework to support the ease of doing business, including regulation on transparency and accountability;
  • improving socioeconomic evaluation and impact studies of existing and emerging sectors to demonstrate their potential contribution and mobilise investment in sustainable economic diversification; and
  • upcoming NAP in 2023 – transition to an SBE can incorporate resiliency in an integrated way that encourages donor investment.

3.6 Stakeholder engagement and coalitions

Sometimes to have a meaningful discussion some individuals lack the competence to have meaningful input. Hence, communities don’t feel included. Community groups would see things going wrong but are afraid to speak out or hold government accountable. Share on Twitter
Participant response

Given their leadership and strategic oversight, governments and related public bodies can support the coalition-building needed at national level to catalyse positive change and support progress by sharing knowledge and capacity and seizing opportunities through mutually supportive actions. Within the government, coalitions across different departments, such as the existing NOGC, can develop support and co-ordination for a SBE approach. Broader stakeholder coalitions are needed, and may emerge from the bottom up. These can be supported by governments in their contribution to the SBE. There are a few examples of bottom-up governance, such as local fisheries management in Parham (Antigua), or in Barbuda where there is good representation of local knowledge, and opportunities for greater local involvement in management, including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). However, examples are limited and increased inclusion at local level is needed.

Stakeholder engagement requires inclusivity in how it is approached. Participants highlighted that often, stakeholder engagements are done at too high a level to be meaningful for wider society. Engagement is pitched at those with existing knowledge and/or power, excluding those who feel that they are not well enough equipped to express their interests or concerns.

There are several lingering, unresolved conflicts that need to be addressed to create trust and stakeholder support. An example is the construction of a new airport in Barbuda which began without consultation with the residents while they were forcibly evacuated after the island was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017. This creates disengagement with stakeholders: they do not feel they are sufficiently valued. Unresolved conflicts can also delay or frustrate progress in the passage of legislation urgently needed to ensure sustainable development.

Some conflicts go unresolved and linger for a long time; for example, the EPMA stipulation that communities be consulted was fought for over ten years. Share on Twitter
Participant response

There is a need to improve inclusion of Barbudan stakeholders whose inclusion in consultations is minimal and often seen as a ‘tick box’ exercise only. All stakeholders, at all levels, should have equal access to the growth, benefits and opportunities of an SBE.

A list of key state and non-state actors can be found in Appendices 3 and 4.


  • Stakeholders lack confidence in the existing mechanisms and leadership for the SBE. There is consultation fatigue and a perceived lack of delivery or action, especially in the SBE space.
  • Lingering conflicts over land rights and lack of consultation create frustration and tensions in stakeholder engagement processes, particularly in Barbuda.
  • While there is an accepted model for stakeholder consultation across GoAB, the process is not mandated and the existing guidelines and processes to encourage representation need significant improvement.
  • Barbudan representation is often at a minimum and requires increasing opportunities to participate in decision-making forums and stakeholder consultations.
  • The Barbuda Council represents only one vote of 17 in the political system. This means that decisions can easily be made that affect stakeholders in Barbuda without sufficient representation of their needs and interests.
  • A lack of transparency and equality in benefit sharing in decision-making processes for the use of coastal and marine resources generates concerns about accountability and diminishes engagement.
  • The process to effectively engage all stakeholders is resource-intensive. Local-level stakeholders highlight that time spent is not always compensated for, particularly loss of earnings and/or travel from Barbuda to Antigua, where consultations tend to be held.
  • There is a lack of unified understanding around which stakeholders can coalesce and drive action, or of their roles in the SBE. This means stakeholders often do not engage.
  • Private sector engagement in consultations is limited.


  • A stakeholder mapping exercise would support agreement among all those involved in an SBE transition, and generate stakeholder awareness by of their role and how to engage.
  • There is an appetite to improve stakeholder engagement, representation and inclusivity with non-state actors, particularly expanding collaboration for progressing objectives of an SBE.
  • Actions can be synergised by developing new coalitions and exploring existing coalitions.
  • Fostering and empowering ‘bottom-up’ coalitions can lead to better equity in decision-making. The bottom-up coalition and community approach to managing fisheries in Parham can act as an example for similar activities across Antigua and Barbuda. Learning exchanges could help disseminate the processes and challenges.

3.7 Data and monitoring

Transitioning to an SBE requires governments to take an adaptive management approach to planning and implementing their policies and management actions. Understanding the evidence base and capacity for monitoring and evaluation is needed to identify critical gaps and potential next steps to support progress to an SBE.

Data management and monitoring are perceived as two of the most significant hurdles to progressing towards an SBE in Antigua and Barbuda. Data collection often gets deprioritised below more obvious national issues such as health or education, and has not been publicly funded. There is no formal centralised system for coastal nor marine data storage, limiting data access and exchange. There is a need for harmonised data collection to maximise efficiency in using financial and technical resources.

Several actors collate diverse data sources, and could share the responsibility of ensuring data are available. Co-ordinating these sources of data could be the responsibility of the DoBE. For economic data, the Statistics Division in the Ministry of Finance and Corporate Governance should lead. For environmental data, the Department of Environment and Department of Fisheries should be responsible, addressing the current disconnect in the data shared between the Departments of Environment, Tourism and Fisheries. Insufficient resources (including financial, technical and human) for data and monitoring are a prevailing barrier with the fisheries department indicated as using out-of-date equipment.

In the context of coastal and marine development, data collection, baseline information and monitoring are often undertaken by developers, but such data are generally associated with EIAs and representing ‘moment in time’ data collection rather than capturing long-term trends. There may not be enough existing data to crosscheck that the results are robust. Limited monitoring is undertaken which severely restricts the ability to assess the impact of developments. There is a need to develop programmatic long-term data collection and monitoring, and to encourage a culture of more transparent data-sharing and availability, to enable co-operative adaptive management.


Figure 3.2: Participant responses to the question, ‘Are SDG14 (life below water) indicators currently being used/monitored?’

The need for shared access to data has been recognised in Antigua and Barbuda. The DoE is in the process of establishing a monitoring, verification and reporting (MRV) system to compile environmental, social and economic data on NDC implementation and climate finance flows across different stakeholders which can be used for SBE. In addition to this, the DoE is also developing a national environmental information system (NEIS)[25] database to collect environmental data from various agencies and sectors, and the natural resources inventory (NRI), a platform for managing and publishing geospatial data.[26] GoAB has made a case with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the USA to develop a national framework template for marine spatial data to be shared with SIDS for sharing data across multiple agencies. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) have agreed to support developing this.

Despite these developments, better internal co-ordination and technical capacity is needed for data collection, analysis and interpretation with harmonised standards in spatial data management. If responsible for delivering MSP, the DoBE could act as a facilitating agent in collaboration with the Ministry of Information which should have a clear mandate of responsibility for maintaining and managing such a platform. Workshop participants suggested that this could be achieved in collaboration with the UWI Centre for Excellence of Oceanography and the Blue Economy, which could act as independent evidence providers to support monitoring and data collection. This platform should have secured and sustainable financing to ensure that it is available for use over the lifespan of the SBE approach.

For monitoring progress towards achievement of SBE-related targets, Antigua and Barbuda updated its NDC in 2021 and has a NAP under development in response to UNFCCC targets. At present, due to the cost of data collection, the DoE relies on the data provided by these conventions. However, in most instances, it is not a refined enough resolution for small islands. The MRV by the DoE will be a key opportunity to support monitoring and reporting. There was limited participant knowledge of whether any SDG 14 (Life Below Water) indicators are being used or monitored. To support this, the NOGC could play a critical role in initiating ’state of the ocean’ reporting approaches.

The need for improved and sufficient data should not delay progress towards transitioning to an SBE but should be prioritised to ensure continued stakeholder buy-in. Metrics should be easy to understand, directly relate to policy goals, and encompass stakeholders from all relevant areas. Prioritisation of actions needs to be informed by up-to-date data.


  • There is a lack of timely information sharing. Workshop participants expressed difficulty in knowing where to find relevant data between departments and ministries.
  • There is no formal centralised system for data management in Antigua and Barbuda nor standardised monitoring and evaluation regulations. This limits sharing of data and means that there is a lack of knowledge about where to access specific types of data.
  • There is a lack of knowledge in sectors beyond DoE of what ecosystem valuations are or how they would be applied.
  • A lack of long-term monitoring of development projects prevents learning and understanding of the impact of projects including coastal development.
  • Insufficient resources exist for long-term environmental monitoring, with out-of-date equipment in use, for example by the Fisheries Division.


  • Generating new data is valuable but time and resources can be spared by retrieving and harmonising datasets that already exist. This can support a culture of transparent data-sharing.
  • There is the opportunity to create an MRV system to compile multiple data sources, using the one being developed by the DoE as a basis on which to build, supported by the template framework proposed to NOAA.
  • There is the opportunity to engage with UWI to act as an independent evidence provider to support monitoring and data collection, given its technical skills as a research institution.
  • The DoBE could play a critical role in co-ordinating harmonised data collection across government, with the Ministry of Information responsible for maintaining and managing the central platform.
  • Policy to ensure monitoring and data-sharing and harmonisation would facilitate a central repository, as well as increase transparency. Mandating that data are published within a set time frame (e.g. within two years) has merit.


[17] The TOR for the NOGC are ‘to provide advice to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda on the management and sustainable development of the marine space under the jurisdiction of Antigua and Barbuda – internal waters, archipelagic waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf’. According to the TOR, the NOGC should be made up of the head or senior representative from the following: The Ministry responsible for ocean affairs and/or Blue Economy; The Ministry of Foreign Affairs; The Ministry of Tourism; The Barbuda Council; Office of the Attorney General; Fisheries Division; Department of Environment; Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority; The Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS); Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force Coast Guard; Customs and Excise Division; Immigration Department; and such other person(s) as may be appointed by the Prime Minister or the Cabinet.

[18] The gap analysis of the MEP outlines the activities of the DoBE and proposes actions for the way forward.

[19] The NOGC might not have been regularly meeting during this time as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but participants highlighted that there was no due procedure followed to explain the role of the DoBE to the existing SBE actors.

[20] In May 2022, GoAB secured a collaborative partnership with Odyssey Marine Exploration – a US-based company which specialises in deep sea explorations.

[21] Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) (2022), Antigua and Barbuda ocean governance study, (draft, unpublished), DOALOS.

[22] https://www.waittinstitute.org/blue-halo-barbuda

[23] Johnson, AE, McClintock, WJ, Burton, O, Burton, W, Estep, A, Mengerink, K, Porter, R and Tate, S (2020), ‘Marine spatial planning in Barbuda: A social, ecological, geographic, and legal case study’, Marine Policy, 113, 103793.

[24] The gap analysis highlights that the DoBE should ‘lead on the creation of a new MSP unit, working with ADOMS and the NOGC. The MSP unit should work towards the creation of a national MSP to help manage the country’s marine resources and activities in a balanced and sustainable manner over the long term’.

[25] https://neis.environment.gov.ag/

[26] https://nri.environment.gov.ag/