• The Honourable Penelope Beckles, Minister of Planning and Development
• The Honourable Farley Augustine, Chief Secretary, Tobago House of Assembly
• Other Honourable Assemblymen• Chairman of the Institute of Marine Affairs, Mr Hayden Alexander
• Staff of the IMA
• Specially invited guests
• Members of the media
It is my honour to share remarks as we mark the launch of what is a very timely and crucial project.
It is a pleasure to be here today, this provided an excellent prompt, and I took the opportunity to spend the weekend in Tobago. I love spending time here but don’t get to visit as often as I would like!
My latest visit served to reinforce why this project is so important. Tobago’s natural resources play a crucial role, not only for leisure but also as a source of income and development. Like other small island developing nations, Trinidad and Tobago’s future depends on the ability to harness and preserve its natural resources for economic growth.
It is essential that we protect our natural resources, even as we note that the environment is coming under increasing threat. Small island developing states like T&T feel the effects of climate change first-hand and those effects have a direct impact on development and livelihoods.
This brings us to why we are here this morning.
bp's purpose is reimagining energy for people and our planet.
Our strategy is to move from being an international oil company to an integrated energy company.
In 2021 bp launched its sustainability frame which links our strategy to our purpose and translates our purpose into action. It sets out aims in the areas where we believe we can make the biggest difference for bp, our stakeholders and society.
The frame incorporated our Net Zero aims – or those related to reducing emissions and investing in new energies - and also added new aims that will help bp to:
• Improve people’s lives; and
• Care for the planet
We recognize that sustainability is far wider than the climate crisis, and while tackling climate change is of paramount importance there are other broader issues that impact society and as a global citizen, we have a role to play in how we address these.
Importantly, our sustainability aims outline how we will go about achieving our purpose. These are measurable and allow us to track our progress.
And globally we are making progress. We are:
• Partnering with cities to support and advance their Net Zero aims
• Developing more clean energy; and
• Evaluating how we measure positive impacts in biodiversity at some of our projects
In Trinidad and Tobago, we have continued our focus on the environment through:
• The Schools Environmental Competition in collaboration with the Black Deer Foundation and
• Schools science and conservation programme where we are partnering with the Ministry of Public Utilities, Shell and Pennacool.com.
It should be noted that although the Sustainability Frame has provided a new focus, it builds on our long-standing contribution to development in T&T. We are proud of our historical support for Tobago but we also recognized that the frame allows us to identify opportunities to align our partnerships with our purpose and aims.
In terms of project MARIN which we are launching today: We are honoured to partner with the Institute of Marine Affairs. We admire the very critical work that the IMA has been doing and the caliber and passion of their team and we look forward to this partnership. My colleagues from the IMA will explain the project in more detail but for my part I am very excited about what it could mean for environmental protection, preservation of livelihoods and sustainability. If it is successful, it will also contribute to building greater climate resiliency as we face the continued threats of climate change.
This is a feasibility study. It’s a first step – but as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Coral reef restoration and seagrass rehabilitation promote biodiversity while promoting sustainable livelihoods. As bp’s sustainability frame highlights, there’s a close relationship between care for the environment and improving people’s lives. And we know that the preservation of Tobago’s marine environment is crucial to many who make their living from the sea and to the island’s tourism product.
Most of us would understand the importance of coral reefs but I have to admit that up to now, I had never given much thought to seagrasses. However, from what I’ve learnt, seagrass in particular plays a major role in carbon sequestration, capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and has the capacity to sequester more carbon than traditional rainforests. In the longer term, this project and others could even form the basis for T&T to benefit from carbon credit trading.
But that’s in the future. We are here today to mark the launch of this project. As I’ve said, it’s a first step but first steps are always important.
Finally, to the people of Tobago, thank you for your warmth and hospitality. This island is a treasure and at bpTT we are happy to play a small part in preserving its beauty, its biodiversity and its sustainability.