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IMA > Press Release  > CEREMONIAL SIGNING – FIRST OF ITS KIND WITH THE NEW BLUE CARBON CREDIT SCHEME FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

CEREMONIAL SIGNING – FIRST OF ITS KIND WITH THE NEW BLUE CARBON CREDIT SCHEME FOR TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

BY KRYSTAL GANASELAL

Port of Spain – Trinidad and Tobago boldly steps towards establishing a blue carbon market. The country will leverage the value of carbon stored in its marine assets to finance conservation and restoration efforts and generate revenue for developing economies and blue economy endeavours. This, as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago collaborates with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to pilot a Blue Carbon Credit Scheme for the twin-island Republic.

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched the initiative at the Yara Auditorium of the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business on May 8th, 2024. The Honourable Penelope Beckles, Minister of Planning and Development, and the IDB Country Representative Carina Cockburn, signed the Technical Cooperation Agreement, which makes USD 550,000 available to establish the first Blue Carbon Credit Scheme for the country. The three-year project consists of four main components: scientific assessments of two mangrove sites in Southwest Tobago and Caroni Swamp, the design and implementation of rehabilitation and management plans for blue carbon ecosystems in Tobago, the design and implementation of a high-quality blue carbon credit scheme, and sensitisation programme for local stakeholder and potential investors in blue carbon trading.

Providing background on the way carbon markets work, Dr Ava Maxam, Director of the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA), the project’s executing agency, said, “A carbon market is a unique financial market created to purchase and trade carbon credits to compensate for greenhouse gas emissions produced from business operations or individual activity.  Like a gold-backed currency, these systems are backed by natural ecosystems that store or sequester carbon and its equivalents or sometimes artificial methods of removing carbon from the atmosphere. Because marine ecosystems store more than four times the carbon of terrestrial forests, they are perfect for backing a carbon credit scheme.  For Tobago, IMA research has revealed that the mangrove forests store 61 per cent more carbon per hectare than terrestrial forests in Tobago. For Trinidad, that value is 44 per cent.” Schemes can be voluntary or compliance-based, and Trinidad and Tobago’s scheme would explore a voluntary approach.

Providing further project details, IMA’s Deputy Director, Dr Rahanna Juman, said that through rigorous scientific monitoring and measurement, the IMA aims to quantify the carbon stored in both above-ground biomass and soil in mangrove forests and unlock their economic potential. The IMA has quantified carbon in the roots, trunk, and branches of mangrove systems, utilising precision remote sensing imaging.

Explaining the significance of the venture, the Planning and Development Minister, the Honourable Pennelope Beckles, said capital generated from this Blue Carbon Credit Scheme will put finances behind projects that promote both the country’s environmental sustainability and economic resilience, adding “Blue carbon markets, though voluntary, not only increase our potential to attract blue finance but also reduce our carbon emissions, generate employment in rural economies for fisheries and improve coastal protection.”

Trinidad and Tobago can earn revenue from its marine ecosystems through participation in a carbon credit market. This additional income stream can support local communities and promote sustainable livelihoods. Investing in blue carbon ecosystems mitigates climate change and strengthens coastal defenses against sea-level rise and extreme weather events. This initiative embodies Trinidad and Tobago’s proactive climate adaptation and resilience-building approach.   

The IMA Director, Dr. Ava Maxam, expounding on the Institute’s technical capabilities, said, “IMA, under its Marine Governance Programme, can inform the government’s policies for regulation and legislation important to verify blue carbon assets in safeguarding investors and stakeholders and building confidence in credits.”

The IDB Country Representative for Trinidad and Tobago from the IDB, Ms. Carina Cockburn, also delivered remarks stating, “Given our work in Research and Development, conservation, and the development of innovative financial instruments in the Blue Economy – not only in Trinidad and Tobago but across the Caribbean – we embrace the potential of this project to pull all the elements outlined in the ‘High-quality Blue Carbon Principles and Guidelines’ together in the two demonstration sites and the simulation of the blue carbon credit scheme.  We are indeed excited to bring to life the principles of safeguarding nature; empowering people; employing the best information intervention and carbon accounting practices, operating locally and contextually; and mobilising high integrity capital.  Furthermore, we cannot understate the importance of building capacity for not only the key public sector entities but all participants in the Blue Carbon Credit Scheme while testing the appetite of responsible private sector players to invest.”

The Chief Secretary and Secretary for Finance, Trade and Economy of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) was on hand to represent the island’s interests. The Honourable Farley Chavez Augustine, Chief Secretary, THA, outlined the hopes of Tobago under the project. He said, Tobago “has a significant blue resource base and this remains one of our competitive advantages for a small island developing state. Our Administration remains a strong proponent of sourcing innovative financial solutions to diversity and stimulate Tobago economy.  The Blue carbon credit scheme is therefore an excellent initiative that will be beneficial to Tobago due to the natural capital that we possess which can be sustainably leveraged and traded on the carbon markets in the future.”

Dr. Rahanna Juman, Deputy Director of Research and Project Lead of the IMA remarked, “The significance of this initiative extends beyond economic gains. It is essential to acknowledge the collective responsibility to safeguard the health and integrity of our coastal resources, to not only protect them, but to restore them.”

The Ceremonial Signing of the Blue Carbon Credit System for Trinidad and Tobago emphasises the collective commitment of the Institute and Marine Affairs, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and their partners to advancing environmental stewardship.

END

For more information, kindly contact the following:

Krystal Chandler-Ganaselal

Information Officer/Public Relations

Institute of Marine Affairs

Hilltop Lane, Chaguaramas

Tel: 868-634-4291/4; Ext. *2415/2406

Fax: 868-634-4433

Email: kchandler@ima.gov.tt

Website: www.ima.gov.tt

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