The Caribbean is a region in the Americas with islands and coasts bordering the Caribbean sea. Three countries are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten) and three are special Dutch municipalities (Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius among them). There is also a historic and dynamic relationship with Suriname, where the new government and the common language has created new opportunities.

In active consultation and participation with local communities and key stakeholders, Wageningen University & Research (WUR) has set out the critical challenges and potential research areas for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean. The Caribbean counts sixteen of these communities, including the mainland state of Surinam. They are defined by the United Nations as ‘low-lying coastal countries that share similar sustainable development challenges’. Nevertheless, there is a high level of cultural, economic and environmental diversity within and between them. Their challenges are complex and interconnected and therefore require a holistic and integrated approach to research and development.

It is essential that the research efforts in the Caribbean are guided by the unique local context of each island, with an emphasis on local needs and priorities and collaboration. A key aspect of that co-creative endeavour is the inclusion of major regional funders and their interests. For instance, Trinidad suffers from particular challenges around ambiguous land ownership and theft. WUR works together with international and local partners to realise solutions and build a more sustainable future for the people and ecosystems in the Caribbean Sea. One of WUR’s partners in the Caribbean is the Caribbean Research and Development Institute (CARDI). Find a nice video clip of CARDI’s executive director in the right margin of this page.

Four Research Themes

WUR has a long history of involvement in scientific research targeted at the social, economic and environmental aspects of the Caribbean. Its scientists have mainly focussed their research on an around the Dutch Caribbean islands of St Martin, St Eustatius, Saba, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, but they have also worked on a number of other Caribbean islands, including Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Cuba and Haiti. An overview of the WUR projects in the Caribbean can be found here and in the right margin of this page.

Researchers have collected knowledge and data from workshops with local stakeholders, but also through focussed missions to several areas and meetings both on site and online. Another important resource was the inventory of research projects, on which you can read more in the dedicated booklet.

Further research is guided by four themes:

  • Governance and social transformation
  • Economic systems
  • Food Systems
  • Environment and Biodiversity

There is an urgent need for sound science to support decisions on pressing issues and challenges of our modern time. WUR intends to take a step beyond consultation and aims to deliver genuine structural, long-term solutions born out of collaboration at the island level.