1. Introduction

Globally, change is needed to decouple economic growth from ecosystem degradation and to generate wealth from our land and seas in a more sustainable way. Ocean states need to recognise the dependency of their societies on healthy marine ecosystems and develop approaches to ensure that the ocean can support human development needs, now and into the future.

Moving beyond conventional understandings of maritime economies (i.e. economic activities that directly or indirectly take place in the ocean), the sustainable blue economy (SBE) concept drives focus on how to promote sustainable livelihoods and economies in an equitable manner that also safeguards the health of the ocean. UNEP defines an SBE as:

…one in which the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources generates equitably and inclusively distributed benefits for people, protects and restores healthy ocean ecosystems, and contributes to the delivery of global ambitions for a sustainable future.’

The transition towards an SBE is a multifaceted process that combines natural, social and economic considerations, and which must embed the value of nature at the heart of decision-making. To support countries in this transition, UNEP has developed the Sustainable Blue Economy Transition Framework (SBE-TF) which aims to make implementing an SBE feasible and practical. The transition framework provides countries with guidance for developing a strategic process to enable progress towards an SBE, based on existing governance and institutional landscapes. It describes a set of principles that drive forward national implementation and has been particularly designed to accelerate national contributions to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SBE-TF describes three broad phases of transition:

  • phase 1 focuses on analysis of the current ocean governance system in a specific country (6–12 months);
  • phase 2 guides the creation of a national integrated policy and supporting governance framework (6–12 months); and
  • phase 3 (20–25 years) focuses on the implementation of the integrated policy (created in phase 2), including ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

The phases of transition are underpinned by seven cross-cutting elements that need to be in place and should be considered for all activities and decisions that take place in adopting SBE:

  • leadership;
  • institutional infrastructure and culture;
  • laws and policies;
  • planning and management;
  • sustainable finance;
  • stakeholder engagement and coalitions; and
  • data and monitoring.

To support countries in the transition, an RRA process is being trialled –in Antigua and Barbuda and elsewhere. This process supports information gathering and dialogue at national level to enable countries to better understand the current status of their efforts to create an ocean-based economy and from this, to identify key enabling actions and next steps to drive the transition to an SBE. The RRA provides a high-level snapshot of the existing ocean-based economy landscape with an eye towards establishing the unique transition pathway for each country. By its nature, RRA provides a rapid overview and is not intended as a comprehensive analysis (which may also be required). Working with national government and stakeholders, it aims to:

  • assess readiness for taking forward a transition to an SBE;
  • collectively identify and understand the necessary first steps; and
  • identify short- to medium-term priority resources required.

Supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Commonwealth Secretariat through the Commonwealth Blue Charter programme, Antigua and Barbuda, alongside Trinidad and Tobago, agreed to pilot the RRA process from October to December 2022. The RRA is derived from:

  • a two-day stakeholder workshop held on 12 and 13 October, 2022 at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, St John’s, Antigua;
  • interviews with stakeholders;
  • an online questionnaire; and
  • supplementary information from a desk-based review of documents and policies.

Based on the above information, this report provides:

  • an overview of the blue economy in Antigua and Barbuda to date (section 2);
  • the main issues and opportunities in the ocean-based economy that exist across key enabling factors, including the challenges and barriers to overcoming them (section 3);
  • an assessment of national readiness to transition to an SBE (section 4); and
  • recommendations (section 5).

List of acronyms


Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping
AF Adaptation Fund
CMEP Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme
DCA Development Control Agency
DOALOS Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea
DoBE Department of the Blue Economy
DoE Department of Environment
EEZ exclusive economic zone
ECROP Eastern Caribbean Regional Ocean Policy
EIA environmental impact assessment
EPMA Environmental Protection and Management Act (2019)
GCF Green Climate Fund
GDP gross domestic product
GEF Global Environment Facility
GoAB Government of Antigua and Barbuda
ICZM Integrated Coastal Zone Management
IUU illegal, unregulated and unreported
MEP Maritime Economy Plan for Antigua and Barbuda (2021)
MoSTBE Ministry of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy
MP Member of Parliament
MRV monitoring, reporting and valuation
MSP marine spatial planning
NAP National Adaptation Plan
NDC Nationally Determined Contributions
NEIS National Environmental Information System
NOGC National Ocean Governance Committee
NOP National Ocean Policy (2021 draft)
ODA official development assistance
RRA Rapid Readiness Assessment
SBE sustainable blue economy
SBE-TF Sustainable Blue Economy Transition Framework
SDGs Sustainable Development Goals
TOR terms of reference
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
UWI University of the West Indies