Recent events have converged to focus the national mind on issues that matter to everyone living in this small island whose open economy which boasts of an enviably high standard of living and which depends on tourism as its main foreign exchange earner.
Sustainable development, energy policy and climate change are all very important to our present welfare and our future prosperity. The Third United Nations Conference on Small Island States should therefore have riveted our attention on matters which touch and concern our existence as a nation.If, for example, we pay insufficient attention to international debates shaping policies on environmental issues we may find ourselves swamped by a tsunami of problems which will adversely affect our tourism. We are a flat, low-lying island surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on the one side and the Caribbean sea on the other. Global warming and climate change are therefore matters we must take seriously.
In this respect, the Government must take the lead role; and part of that responsibility is to sensitise members of the public about how each of us can play a small but powerful role in helping to protect our island from inconvenient consequences of littering and disposing of garbage in places where it may block run-off drains and cause preventable flooding and other damage to life limb and property as well as to the environment.
This island has a chronic interest in all aspects of sustainable development and therefore we believe that a well publicised report on the conference will do the world of good to focus our energies on how we can better protect our physical environment and thereby enhance the sustainability of our tourism industry.
Meanwhile the conference on International Financial Centres sponsored by Invest Barbados at the Hilton Hotel dovetailed neatly with the national agenda. We are not only vulnerable as a physical space; but also as a financial space for the execution of international business. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act should remind us that both borders so to speak have to be proactively protected.
Significantly, the Prime Minister saw it fit to be in Samoa and at the Hilton, where he underlined the national interest in enhancing this country’s capacity to continue to do international business especially with and through Canada with which we have financial ties of high order.
Energy and educational policies also came under the spotlight, the former because of the cap on the sale of renewable energy to the Barbados Light & Power national grid, and the latter because
part of the tuition costs are now to be paid by students. Both these issues are intimately connected to sustainability.
Our educational policy has produced intellectual energy and productive brain power which have enabled the harnessing of solar energy and has made this country a leader in that area; and some of the sharpest and most creative minds in offshore financial centre policy and advice have been honed at Cave Hill Campus from among the poorest and brightest locals.
Government may face serious financial challenges, but we will be penny-wise and pound-foolish if we ignore the chance that many a bright baby may be thrown out with the bath water. We harm the national effort at sustainability if this happens.