Dr. Dennis Lowe, Minister of Environment and Drainage, addressing the Caribbean Environment Forum at the opening ceremony
The Caribbean Environment Forum (CEF) organized by the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute was held at the Marriott Resort and the Royal Beach Casino in St. Kitt’s at the end of May 2012. The overall focus this year was on the Green Economy, its challenges and opportunities in managing health, water, waste, land, energy, climate change and our natural resources. The event annually facilitates CARICOM islands to come together to discuss best practices, case studies, research & development and solutions to environmental issues affecting the region. The participants comprised public and private sector, NGO representatives from all sectors within the field of environment; agriculture, research & development, waste management, water quality, education, tourism, energy conservation & renewables and others. At the conference Barbados emerged as a regional leader in recycling and waste management processes, The Green Economy, renewable energy (especially solar water heating) and Green Business.
In conjunction with the Caribbean Environmental Forum (CEF) ReCaribe, the 16th Annual Caribbean-wide waste management conference was also held concurrently. On the first day of the ReCaribe conference Mr. Ricardo Marshall from the Solid Waste Project Unit in Barbados presented on Barbados’s progressive waste management system including the private/public partnership with Sustainable Barbados Recycling Centre (SBRC) and the Government of Barbados. He shared with the participants the current rate of waste disposal at 1,200 to 1,300 tons per day and explained the process by which the waste is processed allowing for the diversion of 70-75% from the landfill. Most of this waste is green waste which is being mulched for application in agriculture and landscaping while construction and demolition waste, another large contributor to the waste stream, is currently being used for land reclamation for the back-fill of quarries. There was consensus within the group that Barbados is a leader in the region in sustainable waste management but concern was placed on the amount of waste thrown away everyday which cannot be compared to other islands except Grenada due to their lack of data collection as it relates to waste disposal. Grenada an island of 120,000 people disposes 100 tons of waste per day, compared to Barbados with 270,000 people this is a much higher rate of disposal per capita especially as it relates to construction and demolition waste.
On the third and final day of the conference I made a presentation on the Future Centre Trust and its projects, the Green Business Barbados programme history, details and case studies on successful green business initiates within the programme. The case studies presented included Harris Paints, the British High Commission, KPMG and Studio Blue Architects. Mention was also made of the other businesses in the programme and what their most unique green initiatives were as well as practical ways that participants could change their behaviors to be part of the solution to our sustainability issues in the Caribbean and indeed worldwide.
What was the conclusion from ReCaribe 2012 on waste management in the Caribbean you might ask? There needs to be a coordinated effort between islands on waste management data, technology and success stories on what worked and what did not. In addition it was suggested that the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute could facilitate the creation of the proposed Waste Management Master Plan for the CARICOM countries in order to design a holistic and comprehensive approach not only to waste management but to government policy at it relates to waste management throughout CARICOM. Finally, education and capacity building is key within our island communities as often behavior of our citizens in a primary component in sustainable waste management worldwide. Participants expressed a need for more education and outreach in this area in order to share practical and easy ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.