No Longer Business as Usual To do any of this effectively, we have to move beyond insular thinking. We have to be West Indian. There is no policy alternative. The future is a unified Caribbean.
Caribbean 2050: Call for a New Vision We need to create a Caribbean 2050 Vision—a clear, long-term plan for the region: The Caribbean we want. This is what the African countries have done with Agenda 2063. This vision will require seeing ourselves differently, as innovators using the rich talent and creativity of our people, while building active and resilient regional connections. We all have a role to play in crafting this vision of sustainable development for the region (http://caribbeanfutureforum.com/). Here are a few pillars around which we can create change:
Our Oceans: What if we moved from thinking of ourselves as small island states, to operating as medium and large ocean states? St. Lucia has a land area of around 617 sq. km but a maritime zone of 15,260 sq. km. The Bahamas’ land area is just above 13,900 sq. km, but it has an ocean space of 684,000 sq. km. The Government of the Bahamas is currently making efforts to extend its continental shelf, which, if successful, will result in a maritime zone covering approximately 884,000 sq. km.
The Commonwealth is proposing an increased emphasis on the “Blue Economy” for the Caribbean— building an ocean-based economy as a way to realise inclusive growth and development. Opportunities can include marine farming, renewable energy, marine biotechnology, as well as the use of other natural resources, in addition to oil and gas. How can we create a future more closely linked to the ocean? The Commonwealth Secretariat has been working with a number of countries in the region in this regard. We have helped the Eastern Caribbean develop perhaps the world’s first sub-regional ocean policy. Think of the potential of expanding this approach across the wider region. In other parts of the world, countries have recognised the potential of the “Blue Economy” and are moving full speed ahead. Last year, the Government of Mauritius established a Ministry dedicated to the Oceans, and Mauritius’ neighbour, the Seychelles, created a Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy. We need to act quickly, before the opportunity is lost.
Our Diaspora: In 2014, the Caribbean received an estimated US$5.1 billion in remittances. Haiti, Jamaica and Guyana accounted for the largest percentage of that figure. Remittances are now higher than Overseas Development Assistance to the Caribbean. This is an opportunity in the making.
The reference to us as
plantation economies still applies, in that we consume what we don’t produce and produce what we do not consume. 58 – THE PELICAN/ISSUE 14