In 2019 several Caribbean nations announced 19 reforms to stimulate small and medium-sized businesses. The reforms included cutting red tape for starting a business, increased access to reasonably priced energy, tax reforms, a more streamlined clearance process for exports and imports, and clearer guidelines for enforcing business contracts. Santiago Downes, a program manager on the World Bank's Doing Business Unit, welcomes the new measures. He says, "It is encouraging to see that economies in the Caribbean have reinforced their reform agendas. It's an excellent start for the region, and I'm sure it will unlock so much potential for economic growth."
Unfortunately, these reforms could not do much to prevent the negative economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. But the future is looking up for businesses across the Caribbean. A study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean predicts the region's economies will grow by almost 4% during the remainder of 2021. While this strongth growth is very promising, it does leave open the possibility of labor shortages, if there are not enough skilled people to fill all of the new jobs created by this economic growth. This is where higher education comes in, with the many great universities and colleges in the Caribbean educating and training young people so that whey they graduate they are fully prepared for the job market, so they can they prosper as individuals and, in turn, further boost the Caribbean.
Responsible economic development
The Caribbean is a beautiful spot famous for its stunning beaches, deep blue seas, and fascinating biodiversity. The region is home to whale sharks, green monkeys, crocodiles, bats, armadillos, and lots of unusual critters. As such, the Caribbean is a popular destination for scientists, researchers, and conservation specialists. For example, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is, along with partner organizations, doing amazing work to save coral reefs in the region. By using state-of-the-art remote sensing tools, including satellites and laser scanners, its researchers have now assessed the condition of coral reefs in the Caribbean with over 90% accuracy. Along with Planet and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, it is working on the first high-resolution map of the Caribbean’s coral reefs, in order to put especial efforts into protecting the most vulnerable, by planning, pushing for more investment in reef conservation, and informing strategy and policymaking.
This is just one example of excellent environmental work from scientists and campaigners. Others include a fishing sanctuary in Jamaica, investing in land rights for Indigenous communities to protect the rainforest, youth council environmental advocacy, a ban on gill fishing nets, campaigning against 'aquatic wild meat', marine reserves, and campaigning to protect endangered animals.
In fact, the region's scientific market is booming. Caribbean universities are producing an increasing number of scientific publications, especially in fields like agriculture, biomedical research, and environmental sciences. These essential works are significantly contributing to the global production of knowledge regarding biodiversity and sustainable practices. They're also helping Caribbean schools attract more attention (and funding) from top universities and NGOs in Europe, the USA, and Asia. For example, the Inter-American Foundation (IAF) offers grants of $25,000 to $400,000 for research into improving the lives of people living in the Caribbean through sustainable growth business practices.
Female empowerment is driving economic growth
Empowering women creates stronger economies. Women's economic empowerment increases workforce diversification, boosts productivity and income equality, and leads to many other positive development outcomes.
Empowerment starts with education, and this is one area where Jamaica excels. Women account for more than 60% of higher education students in Jamaica. And these new generations of young, highly educated women are having a massive impact on economic development across the Caribbean. A report by the World Bank found that women in the Caribbean labor market contributed to a 30% reduction in poverty over a ten-year period. And today, more than 30% of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Caribbean are owned and managed by women.
Strong partnerships build strong economies
Success in business and economic growth are joint efforts. And that's why the Caribbean has forged close economic and cultural ties with partners in the US. The Center for Strategic and International Studies is a US nonprofit, non-partisan think tank that works with Caribbean businesses and higher education centers to contribute to practical and timely economic growth. It analyses issues such as migration, trade, development, and energy. Ongoing projects include The Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean (RELAC) Initiative. Supported and funded by the UN and sources of climate finance in the USA, it's looking at ways to generate economic and employment opportunities within sustainable Caribbean economies that work for people and the planet. Read more...
Wednesday August 25, 2021