As another blogger said (@Kellykathrin) I really do think I live in the most beautiful place on earth. Granted, I haven’t seen enough of the world to truly make that claim. I am biased beyond belief because I love my island home. There are issues aplenty but notwithstanding I enjoy living and working in Jamaica.
The theme of this truly inspired initiative is ‘Environment vs Development’. In my mind both must be protected and fostered if we are truly going to be able to live in a country that lives up to its promise and stewards its gifts effectively. Environmentalists are bound to be frustrated by the secrecy and the ‘full-speed-ahead‘ approach of the Government to the Logistics Park being proposed by CHEC.
I believe, based on no inside knowledge and little more than gut, that this project is going ahead despite the outcry. And while I add my name to the Steven Smith petition asking us to ‘Save Goat Island’, I know the future of our whole island is in jeopardy without serious progress, diversification of revenue streams and re-orientation towards producing rather than consuming.
Will the project affect the biodiversity and change the face of Goat Island? Undoubtedly. Here’s however what I think the next steps are:
• Put pressure on the Government to demand a percentage of funding that will either be used to ameliorate damage and/or be able to (re)create other protected areas. Similar to what the Universal Access Fund does. Environmental groups, interested public representatives and those in the Government that are responsible for environmental protection should come up with plans to use the funds in way that is transparent, sustainable (in all senses of the word) and inclusive.
• Begin to use the increased awareness of Goat Island and the pertinent issues surrounding protected areas to begin to influence Government policy and to ensure they do the right thing. Truthfully I don’t know how many protected areas there are, where they are and I bet you that I am not alone. Within those mass emails there are the beginnings of a powerful force that can start commenting on a number of other issues and begin to raise the profile of environmentalists in action.
• Let’s do something! Are there other things that we can do to help save the environment. You have a good database and now a topical issue. Let’s use it to organize teams to clean up beaches, rebound with recycling and start projects to replenish some of our endangered species. And should we ask CHEC, and other corporate entities that challenge the beauty and sustainability of the island, to chip in to help pay for it and indeed to throw their human resources and equipment at the problem.
• And someone should start putting together a proposal for CHEC that proposes themself as a Chief Environment Officer that looks at ways to ensure that this public relations nightmare could be handled better and plans sustainability within their future projects. Like our Prime Minister I am all about the “jobs, jobs, jobs”.
Now I am not saying those opposing the use of Goat Island should give up the fight but saying there should also be another approach that looks at what should be done in the very likely event that it does happen. I am no environmentalist but I do enjoy the benefits and the privilege of being here and so I am interested in sustaining and even bettering Jamaica because mi nah lef yah!