This year???s global theme for World Environment Day, ???Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care??? serves to remind us that our earthly resources are limited, and that as a consequence, we should adopt a sustainability ethos in the way we live and consume. But what is sustainability really?
One of the simplest, yet most thought provoking definitions I have come across is attributed to an unnamed African Elder, who, in response to a question from UNESCO???s Chairman for Education for Sustainable Development, Charles Hopkins, during the 2002 UN World Summit on Sustainable Development, in Johannesburg, eloquently stated that for him, sustainability means ???Enough for all, forever???.
From a global perspective, the 2012 United Nations projections have suggested that the world population could reach 9.6 billion by 2050. In fact, at June 2013, the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported the global population to be approximately 7.2 billion.
This means that on a planet where more than 7 billion human beings are competing for the same basic resources ??? clean air, water, food and land, among other things – the time has come for us to reconsider our consumption patterns.
With these statistics in mind, as far back as 2008, my Ministry launched our Living Sustainably Campaign, with a view not only to sensitise, but also to persuade our fellow citizens to embrace the concept of Sustainable Consumption and Production, which, simply put, involves the use of goods and services, in a manner that takes into consideration the finite and fragile nature of the earth???s resources.
In this regard, we have been seeking to address a number of related issues, including the negative impacts of consumption and production on our island.??
For example, on the consumption side, the Drainage Division and the Environmental Protection Department of my Ministry, have been implementing maintenance protocols within flood prone areas, including the Bridgetown World Heritage Site, which seek to minimise the impacts of solid waste and other forms of pollution, in the waterways across the island.
Unfortunately, these impacts are a result of the use and subsequent inappropriate disposal of discarded products by many of us.??My Ministry has also recognised the importance of the production side, and has partnered with like-minded entities in the realisation of our mission, as it relates to facilitating the sustainable use of our resources.
To this end, during the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Samoa, the Prime Minister of Barbados, the Rt. Hon. Freundel J. Stuart, Q.C., M.P., signed a declaration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation.
That declaration formalised a partnership entitled: Piloting a Resource Efficient Low Carbon and Circular Industrial Partnership Platform for Catalysing Eco-Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Barbados.
The sub-components of the pilot platform will include incubators for green micro and small enterprises and an eco-innovation capacity building platform. This partnership is being spearheaded by the Ministry with responsibility for Industry, in concert with various stakeholders, including my Ministry.
As part of our efforts to address the impacts of current consumption and production patterns, the Solid Waste Project Unit and the Sanitation Services Authority, are currently undertaking the 2015 Waste Characterization Study.
The 2005 Study indicated that Barbadians generated between 1,000 and 1,200 tons of garbage daily, most of which had been traditionally disposed of via landfilling.
As you are aware, my Ministry has taken steps to reduce the impact of this level of waste generation through extensive recycling projects and programmes at the community level, as well as developing new frameworks for waste management at the policy and project levels, specifically the 2015 Draft Solid Waste Management Policy and the Green Energy Complex, respectively.
In addition to these efforts however, we recognise that each of us has a significant role to play in reducing the amount of waste we generate on a daily basis. This role is hinged upon how and what we choose to consume.??So let us think before we consume. For example:
Are we disposing of our cell phones, batteries, light bulbs and other electronic devices appropriately? Or, are we opting to risk contaminating our precious ground water?
Are we conscious of the water and energy being wasted when we allow food to spoil? In fact, dumping one spoilt apple is equivalent to approximately 21 gallons of water, or the amount required to flush a toilet seven times.
I wish to challenge you therefore, to take our individual and collective environmental responsibility for our country more seriously, and where possible, seek to be drivers for wise resource use.
Only then can we be assured that in the years ahead, there will be enough resources to satisfy our needs and the needs of future generations. Let us continue to ???Live Sustainably, and Consume with Care???.