Business and life in Barbados the way we know it is about to change!
The economy is about to ???go green’, the initiatives are ???going green’, the way of life and health practices are all ???going green’. In fact, Barbados is on its way to becoming the greenest country in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, has defined a green economy in the Barbadian context as: "An integrated production, distribution, consumption, and waste assimilation system that, at its core, reflects the fragility of our small island eco-systems".
But what does this mean for the average man on the street? How does the average Barbadian fit into the context of a green economy?
"All stakeholders, including farmers, businessmen, students, hoteliers and homemakers need to appreciate the extent to which a green economy can contribute to their quality of life," the Prime Minister said during the launch of Green Economy Scoping Study (GESS) last year.
The green economy can also be seen as an emerging global marketplace that seeks to respond to the world’s major environmental problems by optimising social, economic and environmental value.
Sean Sealy of the Policy Research, Planning and Information Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Drainage, explained that the Barbadian way of life, conservation of resources, economic efficiency, equity and participation were key to the development and evaluation of a green economy.
It comes as a multi-pronged response to the crises in climate change, fuel, food, water and financial systems plaguing Caribbean governments.
Barbados’ move to a green economy could mean new job opportunities, a cleaner environment to live in, improved fresh water, low-carbon transport, energy efficient buildings, clean technologies, improved waste management systems, sustainable agriculture and forest management, sustainable fisheries and renewable energy.
To achieve these desired outputs, the government of Barbados, entered into a partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to transition the country to an "environmentally advanced green country".
The first step in the process was to conduct the GESS which paid special attention to four priority areas – tourism, agriculture, transport and housing/buildings – based on their potential scope for greening.
However, the study, conducted by the University of the West Indies, also sought to investigate the cross cutting issues of water resources, energy and waste, while at the same time evaluating trends, patterns and gaps in green investments, among other goals.
Recommendations and the way forward were made following the conclusion of the GESS. The full report will be handed over to Prime Minister Stuart on Wednesday, March 28 during the two-day Caribbean Green Economy Forum at the Almond Beach Village, Heywoods, St. Peter.
The business sector is expected to feature prominently as a key contributor and partner in the results of the study.
Meanwhile, Barbados has already taken up the baton towards creating a green economy. This is evident in the country’s Coastal Infrastructure Programme, the Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme and the redevelopment of Harrison’s Cave.
The SMART energy fund was also established to support renewable energy and energy efficient projects, to add to the private sector led solar water heating industry.
To date, there are also plans for a Water and Sanitation Systems Upgrade Project to enhance the management of the country’s water resources, soil conservation, and a strategic plan for environmental education under development.
These efforts also fall in line with Barbados’ National Strategic Plan (2006-2025) which provides a framework for Barbados to become a fully developed society that is prosperous, socially just and globally competitive by the end of the first quarter of the century.
The fourth goal of the plan speaks to building a green economy and strengthening the physical infrastructure and preserving the environment.
And, as Barbados continues to move forward, residents are being encouraged to get onboard and become more involved in the green economy by using the land in ways that not only add beauty to the surroundings but also bolster economic development.