Barbados has become a leader in the Caribbean in recycling and other environmentally responsible business practices. These new business practices have helped to pave the way into the new green economy by training people and educating the public on sustainable business and practices. The time is ripe for Barbadians to become leaders in green business. The National Strategic Plan for Barbados makes reference to investing in the new green economy and building a sustainable marketplace. This programme provides the perfect opportunity to further do so.
In May 2009 members at the Future Centre Trust (a local non-profit organization) at their envisioning retreat identified green business as being an important programme focus for the organization. This started the grass roots ‘bottom up’ inception of the project. On the business side of things Business Barbados and its owners, along with other businesses, have approached The Future Centre Trust (FCT) to be the leader of this initiative. To create such a programme, the FCT brought together members of the professional community and government agencies in the development of local green business standards.
In late 2009 Lani Edghill an environmental planner and volunteer for the Future Centre Trust began the process of creating the standards for the programme. This was done using standards from green business programmes all over the world and tailoring them to create our very own localized, doable and affordable green business programme for Barbados. The component areas for the programme have also been developed through the consultation with members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). These individuals bring much experience and knowledge to assist in the development of the programme.
In addition to private sector partnerships the programme has also formed a partnership with the Ministry of the Environment. This partnership recognizes the importance of the project to sustainable development goals for the country and the need for non-profits to assist government in the implementation of some of these goals through projects such as these. Public/private partnerships are crucial for the creation of a more holistic and sustainable society. This partnership also helps to bridge the gap between private and public realms in a cross sectoral fashion in order to jump start the new green economy.
Through the initiation of this programme, companies will be given the opportunity to be part of a revolution, a truly local green revolution, one which will ensure incorporating green business practices will become the rule, rather than the exception. Green Business Barbados provides the country with a realistic and true contribution to the reduction of the country’s ecological footprint. It will promote and create a change in generational thinking which will be of direct benefit to business, and in turn the population of this country. This change of attitudes is needed now to ensure the sustainable use of resources, both local and imported.
Barbados has the opportunity, with this project, to show the world we are taking serious interest in reducing our carbon and ecological footprint. Not just taking an interest, but taking action as we, through this same process, implement adaptation measures to the impacts climate change on the region. By creating a truly green economy, we become the forerunners and the examples of how we can choose to ensure the sustainability of our country.
The five components of the project were developed based on existing Green Business programme standards from all over the world. Each component comprises of standards have been localized based on affordable and attainable options for large and small businesses alike. The five components of the project are:
Waste Reduction & Recycling
Waste reduction is probably one of the most advanced of these categories in Barbados. Children in school are taught the concepts of reduce, reuse and recycle and the option to do so in Barbados is available through many private recycling companies. There are also many available options to reduce consumption through educational programmes.
Energy Conservation & Renewable Energy Development
Currently in Barbados close to 100% of our energy is created through the Barbados Light & Power Company importing and burning fossil fuels. The small percentage that is not created through the BL & P Co is created from those individuals or companies who have invested in alternative energy systems.
The practice of burning fossil fuels is unsustainable and will become more expensive over time based on the availability of fossil fuels and world fuel markets. The need to reduce our reliance on unsustainable energy sources is evident in addition to creating new habits to reduce consumption such as using alternatives modes of transportation.
Pollution Control & Management
In the 1960’s Rachel Carson wrote the book called ‘Silent Spring’ that revealed to the world the toxic chemicals that are present in our environment and our food. She was the mother of the modern environmental movement and brought to light how many simple products that we use on a daily basis are not just unhealthy for our use but also for ecosystems as a whole. This component addresses the need for our businesses and organizations to consider their emissions and their direct impact on the physical environment.
Many parts of the world are experiencing droughts and/or long periods of strange weather patterns. One of the major effects of climate change on the environment is the increased desertification of inland continents and reduction of rainfall all over the world. In a world with a population of 6.4 billion that only has access to 1% of the fresh water available on earth, humans and ecosystems are heading toward a catastrophe due to water depletion and contamination. This section addresses these issues by urging businesses/organizations to assess their water use practices and reduce consumption in any way possible.
Education and Outreach
The implementation of the above four components would not be possible without human behavioral change. Our current system is not set up to allow for informed sustainable decisions to be made thus changing behavior and awareness on environmental, social and economic issues, can help to create an environment where businesses, organizations and individuals alike feel a sense of social and environmental responsibility.
In March 2010 the British High Commission was the first business/organization to achieve green business award. This award was given after 4 months of green business assessment and implementation within the organization that acted as a trial run for the GBB programme. This trial facilitated the creation of the programme by allowing a time period for implementation within the organization that revealed real world kinks in the programme and created partnerships with local companies providing goods and services that are required by the programme. Once fully implemented within the High Commission the programme was ready for the local market and was presented to the public on World Water Day March 22nd during the Green Reception hosted by the High Commission.
The programme not only offers a local green business programme for local businesses it is designed to facilitate the creation of green economy and thus new green products and services within it. This means that new business opportunities are available for local entrepreneurs and businesses who wish to provide environmentally friendly products and services. The programme is now available to businesses/organizations through the Future Centre Trust.