Basseterre, St. Kitts, (SKNIS):
This is according to Patricia Aquing, Executive Director of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) who was in the Federation as part of a two-member team assessing the preparations being made for the 6th Biennial Caribbean Environmental Forum (CEF) & Exhibition and the 16th Annual Wider Caribbean Waste Management Conference scheduled for May 21 to 25, 2012 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
The combined event, which is also termed CEF-6, is being held under the theme: “The Green Economy: Challenges and Opportunities in Managing Health, Water, Waste, Land, Climate Change and our Natural Resources.”
“The important thing is that our governments and our planners and our economists and social scientists really look at this greening issue not as a side event, to economic planning,” Ms. Aquing emphasized. “Not as something we do on the side because it sounds good and it sounds snappy and people are going to catch on to it, but it should be a way of changing our economic development pathway in the Region. So if we decide for instance we are going for renewable energy – what does that mean? How do we orient ourselves? How do we orient our people? Our trained students and scientists? Our business people especially? How do we get them on board in terms of these green issues?”
The CEHI Executive Director noted that CEF-6 would address issues such as “waste to wealth,” water scarcity and agricultural practices. Pertaining to the theme, she outlined that a green economy has a low or reduced carbon footprint.
“It is resource efficient, making the best use of the resources around us,” Ms. Aquing explained. “It is socially inclusive … In the case of the Caribbean, our countries have a very low carbon profile. We don’t have big industrialization where we produce a lot of pollutants and green house gas emissions, nor do we impact significantly on the issues of climate change. However, we are impacted and although we have a low carbon profile, we are very rich in our natural capital and in terms of the resources that we have and our natural and cultural assets.”
It was also stressed that all individuals have their part to play in the “greening” of the economy. Governments would be responsible for providing incentives to use green initiatives through tax rebates or exemptions while the Private Sector, including small businesses, would be encouraged to make use of available green technologies in their operations ranging from the conservation of water to reduced use of energy.
The CEHI team also included Christopher Roberts, Chief Finance Officer who also emphasized the importance of the private sector in the overall green initiative.
“A very significant component of the Conference is not simply providing training or the exchange of ideas but there’s also the exhibit component,” Mr. Roberts stressed. “Agencies get the opportunity to display work that they have done through various projects and programmes through poster displays and otherwise. So it is very important to showcase the best practices and it is key that the private sector come on board.”
Ms. Aquing revealed that among presenters who had already confirmed their participation in CEF-6 are Sir K. Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Minister responsible for Sustainable Development of St. Lucia Dr. James Fletcher and Minister of Agriculture of Guyana Dr. Leslie Ramsammy. There would also be discourses from representatives of the private sector on Waste Management and Recycling as well as on Solar Energy.