Developing and delivering long-term value-based sustainable economic and social progress in the region requires a big shift in much thinking compared to that which has traditionally been the case. This month we look at a number of projects and initiatives that are encouraging such a shift.
More value from mangoves
Annette Arjoon-Martins and Carlotta de Jesus are both closely associated with Guyana’s mangrove coastal restoration project. An important aspect of this project has been to develop sustainable community-based businesses that achieve two main objectives – to ensure that the mangrove protection and planting programme is a success and not damaged by human activities and to improve the social and economic status of small traditional communities within the coastal mangrove zone. Agro-processing, health and wellness and eco-tourism have been three areas where real progress has been made. One of the eco-tourism businesses that has evolved is the 3-hour Mangrove Heritage Trail Tour, just half an hour from Guyana’s capital, Georgetown. The tour includes using traditional horse and cart transport (no fossil fuel emissions) along with visits to historical buildings, the first village purchased by slaves following emancipation in 1839, temples, the mangrove forest and wetlands, a guide to traditional medicinal plants and a finale built around local drummers and traditional folk songs. The tour has won several awards including the ‘Tourism and Hospitality of Guyana Environmental Award, 2011’ and the ‘Caribbean Tourism Biodiversity Conservation Award, 2012’. The whole project is an excellent example of how to build a solid sustainability-based economic and social future for small less-advantaged communities.
World Bank Projects
Over the past month progress has been made with several projects designed to encourage and support entrepreneurial business development in the Caribbean region:
Climate Innovation Centre Project: The World Bank team have chosen the stakeholder consortium that will lead this project in the region to support the development of entrepreneurial and innovative businesses in this field and are currently finalising contractual arrangements with them. A business plan that guides the project is in an advanced stage of development and in the final compilation and editing stages.
mInnovation Project: A request for an Expression of Interest to host the regional hub for this project, which aims to support the development of innovative mobile app based businesses, has now been formally announced and prospective interested stakeholders invited to register their interest.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Project is also moving along and progress is being made to select several regional representatives to go to an international meeting in South Africa as well as setting up skills and capability building initiatives in the region.
The Caribbean Digital Expo 2.0 was a major ICT and social network marketing event held in T&T on April 10th and 11th. It introduced participants to real life examples of how both are being used to enhance both commercial and institutional agendas. One especially interesting session included Carole Post for the USA, who helped build the use of social networks in New York City and use them to communicate and share information with citizens, especially during recent extreme weather events. Julia Roberts, Director of Population Services in the Caribbean, explained how they had generated huge social network connectivity to help deliver their agendas. Ian Ivey explained how social networks had been used in both T&T and the region to connect ‘Champions’ and support peer-to-peer entrepreneur information sharing and interactions.
What does this mean for the region?
We still face many challenges breaking away from traditional thinking and actions. It is one reason why the Caribbean is lagging behind other parts of the world (many African countries, Turkey, Central and South American countries) when it comes to becoming 21st century fit. This month’s initiatives are all focused on trying to help us ‘break away’ from many traditional thinking and action areas (not the positive ones) which are holding the region back.
Useful link: The Mangrove Heritage Trail
Key question: How can we get more of our policy makers and delivery agencies to think in 21st century contexts?