BY DR ERNEST HILAIRE – CASTRIES SOUTH MP ST LUCIA

THIS HAS BEEN A YEAR OF CLIMATIC

UNCERTAINTY; FROM THE TORRENTIAL FLOODING AND FIRES IN THE US, earthquakes  around the globe and the devastating series of  hurricanes that have damaged the region. We are  fearful that what was once an anomaly could become an  unsettling norm. At times like this we need to draw the line  with short term profits resulting in long term environmental  damage. The fact remains that small scale  economies like ours cannot survive extreme weather change. When  economies like ours, which are so dependent on the natural beauty in  order to attract the world’s attention, it begs the question; have we done  enough to preserve it?  My concern is that my country to date, is seeing internationally  questionable developments being toyed with on our island. From large  scale race courses looking to be built in local farming communities to the  tune of $2billion USD of our government money (and potentially damaging  our chances of food security), through to a potential marine circus (dolphin park) being built on  one of our historic natural sanctuaries that has drawn international condemnation including  that from the Catholic Church. Each project promising a potential economic uplift but with  little to no meaningful economic independent research being conducted. The reality is, we are  heading to a critical stage in our country’s evolution and rushed development, for development  sake, has never been a good idea. What we risk losing to short term and high costs projects is far  more dangerous to both the economic and environmental welfare of our country than most have  realized, which will result in long term consequences.  St Lucia is known as a paradise for both adventure seekers and travelers alike. But if we lose our  places of natural beauty to seasonal escapades which put our environment at risk, we also lose  our ability to provide visitors the opportunity to see the natural wonder of our island, an industry  worth over $226 billion USD worldwide. The economic costs of preserving our environment and  the blue ocean economy has more positive externalities than building trophy projects that can  quickly become an everlasting and expensive white elephant. Another  reality is that our ability to attract tourists and the necessary dollar  income is not based upon themed projects that appear in season. It is  squarely based upon the narrative of our island and the opportunities we  present to both tourists and the citizens of our country to grow.  My country should be a leading example of where economy meets  ecology. If we were to take a step back and measure the economic  soundness of investing in environmental protection and diversifying  our tourism product by meaningful engagement, employment and  international image building, then we will not be at the whims and fancies of potentially  detrimental projects that could harm our future. We may have survived the natural hurricane,  but the financial one of not heeding its warning may be far more severe.  To be taken seriously, our current Government needs to think through its policies and take  into consideration that our country is small enough to make monumental changes 

“Take a step back and

measure the economic

soundness of investing

in environmental

protection”

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