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Giselle Thompson at the IMA Tobago consultation

 Good afternoon.


I would like to thank the Institute of Marine Affairs for the opportunity to take part in this symposium and to say a few words about our collaboration on the Marine Resilience project or MARIN as it is known. However, before I get to the project I want to take a moment to recognize the incredible work and committed team at the IMA.


Through our partnership with the IMA the bpTT team has grown to develop a much deeper appreciation for our marine resources and the need for all stakeholders to work together to protect our marine environments. The IMA has been a wonderful partner to work with and even at the highest levels of the bp Group they have been recognized for their expertise and delivery and this has resulted in us extending our partnership with the IMA for another 5 years. 
BP has committed to a 5 year work programme and grant funding with the IMA to support broader conservation and restoration efforts across Tobago, working in partnership with NGO’s, community groups and stakeholders, and with various government agencies. It is our hope that through education, restoration and stakeholder collaboration we can all work collectively to support the protection of the marine environment.

You may be wondering why an energy company would have an interest in our marine environments and bio-diversity projects such as Project Marin. We, like many of the stakeholders here today are users of the ocean and our activities by their very nature can impact on our ocean environments. It is therefore incumbent upon us to take positive actions to not just manage our impacts but to leave those environments better than we found them.


Our commitments such as these are set out in our company’s sustainability frame. Our sustainability frame consists of 20 aims which are aligned to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and includes actions to lower carbon emissions, improve people’s lives and care for the planet. bp’s approach to sustainability is targeted, systematic and collaborative. It rests on strong, well-established foundations that guide the way we work and it outlines how we believe we can make the biggest difference for bp, our stakeholders and society.

This brings me to project Marin. In 2020 we conducted a series of engagements with NGO’s and other organizations operating across Trinidad and Tobago as we wanted to deepen our investments in sustainability programmes and particularly in the space of bio-diversity. We wanted to put actions to our sustainability goals and focus on those that have the greatest impact. One aspect that hasn’t changed in how we approach social impact investments is our preference to work with others to make a difference in people’s lives. We support organizations like the IMA that are best-placed to do the work that they do.


We were immediately interested in project MARIN because it combines two of our areas of focus - care for the planet and improving people’s lives. Tobago, like other island economies, depends on its natural resources for economic development. The preservation of coral reefs and seagrass beds is essential to the island’s economic future. Conservation of these resources is important for climate resilience, for food security, for preserving the livelihoods of those who depend on the ocean’s resources and for the island’s tourism industry.


On a personal level, my team and I have really enjoyed working closely with our colleagues from the IMA – from the initial meetings, to seeing the project first-hand and the official launch of the pilot project last year. What has shone through is their passion for the environment and their willingness to share their knowledge and to help us to understand the science behind the project.


What’s next?


We are pleased that based on the success of the pilot, we have secured funding as the project moves from pilot into the main phase. MARIN will become one of the sustainability initiatives that bp supports at a global level. Among the benefits will be the opportunity to share the learnings from MARIN with similar projects in other parts of the Caribbean and the world.This is definitely an exciting time for the MARIN project.We are looking forward to continuing our collaboration with the IMA on this initiative which is of such critical importance to Tobago and one that has implications for similar island economies.Once again, thank you for the opportunity to take part in this evening’s symposium and I look forward to the presentations on MARIN and other initiatives by the IMA.


Thank you.