AS I SEE THINGS: Moving towards green economy
From Guyana to Jamaica, travel and tourism have become critical areas for investment, growth and development.
No longer are these activities mainstays of the economies of Barbados and The Bahamas only.
All other Caribbean countries are looking seriously at diversifying their respective economies along the lines of services with travel and tourism being the main areas of focus.
The critical challenge for all our countries in the Caribbean is that travel and tourism are demand-driven activities.
Individuals who make decisions to spend their vacations in particular destinations do so on the basis that their dreams and aspirations for a certain kind of holiday will be fulfilled in the destination of choice.
In short, a visitor to, say, Grenada expects to be greeted with amenities that are consistent with his/her preferences. And, as we would all expect, those preferences are changing frequently.
In today’s world of travel and tourism, environmental concerns are now key considerations in some visitors’ decision-making matrices. Our countries therefore have one of two choices: we can either turn a blind eye to such developments and chart an alternative economic growth and development path or we can accept the changes unfolding before our very own eyes and make the necessary adjustments to capitalize on any fortunes to be derived therefrom.
Evidently, it would appear as if most destinations in the Caribbean are interested in following the latter strategy.
Consequently, the idea of developing “green economies” now seems to be taking root in the Caribbean. But what is a green economy and does the idea matter for individual countries here in the Caribbean? Should it matter at all?
According to the United Nations, “in its simplest expression, a green economy can be described as one that is low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive.
A green economy can take advantage of new growth trajectories designed to be more socially inclusive, as well as responsive to poverty reduction and economic diversification objectives.
“The conditions in least developing countries (LDCs) provide a basis to pursue a low-carbon and resource-efficient path of economic growth and development, anchored in investment and policy reform designed to enhance livelihoods for the poor, create employment opportunities and reduce poverty.
“The move towards a green economy would also provide an opportunity to address the infrastructure challenges of LDCs in a sustainable way.”
Indeed, this descriptive points to inherent vulnerabilities in Caribbean economies that have become major sources of economic distress and have forced many governments to spend huge amount of financial resources just to try and “ease the pain” on local residents.
But success with those efforts requires much more structured responses – responses that would have to incorporate environmental factors in economic planning for development, led by travel and tourism.
Therefore, with travel and tourism fast becoming the leading areas of economic activity across the Caribbean, going green is a must to capitalize on the environmentally friendly aspect of the industry.
Hence, all efforts toward the development of green economies in the region must be applauded and supported by all and sundry.