(left to right) Panel Moderator, Dr. Adrian Cashman; Permanent Secretary, Gayle Francis-Vaughn; UNEP Resource Efficiency Expert, Elisa Tonda, discuss issues pertaining to the Green Economy, yesterday at the Savannah Hotel. (A.Miller/BGIS)

Economic viability and public awareness are two of the larger issues identified by industry experts in the attempt to transition into the Green Economy.

These were brought to light at yesterday’s panel discussion ???Can Local Production Be Clean and Green?’, held at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church as part of the Barbados Green Economy Solutions Panel Series.

The Government, represented by The Ministry of Environment and Drainage, is partnering with the University of the West Indies and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to build a Resource Efficient Green Economy in Barbados. The panel discussion brought the parties and industry professionals and stakeholders together to discuss some of the major obstacles being faced in the transition.

In her presentation, UNEP’s Resource Efficiency Expert, Elisa Tonda addressed some the challenges that many companies are experiencing in trying to go green. She acknowledged the current uncertainties and inequalities that come along with going green, and suggested the need for "the same rules and conditions to be applied to everyone" She stressed. "This is very important because going green might require significant investment and changes and companies should be able to face that in a fair environment where everybody is required to do so. If not, those companies going green might suffer disadvantages in the transition."

The lack of public awareness about the Green Economy was identified as another issue that companies are facing. There was a call from those present at the panel discussion to educate consumers through public awareness programmes about the benefits of going green to the economy, the environment and the general health of the population. It was suggested that once the public understood the concept, there would be no need to market the Green Economy to be accepted. Ms. Tonda advised, "Educate consumers, whomever they are…to really request green and sustainable products and services because, at the end of the story, the private sector is responding to the needs of the market."

Participants also addressed the financial benefits of going green. It was reported that by making the transition, one company now recycles 93 per cent of its waste, and had increased energy efficiency by 44 per cent, "so it is not only saving money, but is more efficient and making money, and is sending less waste to the landfill". ??It was also advised that while there were upfront costs required to go green, the transition would pay for itself over a period of time due to increased efficiencies that they would incur.

Panellist Fabian Scott of the Barbados National Standards Institution highlighted the challenges faced by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and the importance in addressing these issues in order to move forward. Mr Scott noted that due to a core focus on production, other aspects of doing business such as having resources available for standards implementation, having the technical capacity to carry out the implementation, and the finances necessary were all limited.


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