One of the challenges facing the Philip J Pierre administration is finding the best way to use the meagre resources of Saint Lucia to extend the life of those resources long after the administration is gone. Finding the correct way to do that would not only help Saint Lucia grow, but help it grow in ways that would make it adapt to the challenges posed by climate change and other external threats.
For such growth to take place a policy of sustainable development must be followed by the administration. Governing is not all about jobs, jobs, jobs, despite its importance and relevance today. The protection of the country’s natural resources, like its beaches, mangroves, forests, wildlife, people and more should also be high on the administration’s priority list, as this is the only way we can avoid bankrupting future generations of Saint Lucians.
We really do not want to become another Haiti, 50 years from now. Many amongst us may not want to believe it, but the facts are that one, out of the many, reason why Haiti is said to be the poorest country in the western hemisphere, is a lack of sustainable social infrastructure and a total disregard for the country’s natural resources.
This is not what we want for Saint Lucia. Prime Minister Pierre and his Cabinet of Ministers, or indeed any group of people holding positions of governance in the country must follow a programme of development that has sustainability at its core.
We are aware that following such a programme is for any government, especially a small island developing state, plagued with vulnerabilities, one of the most worrying being the ignorance and cognitive deficiency of too large a percentage of its people as exposed in the current riveting debate over the coronavirus vaccines.
Developing a sustainable economy, in these times, will not be easy for the current government as such a venture would have to include the four pillars of sustainability, namely human sustainability, social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability.
At the same time, developing a sustainable economy is not an impossible venture. True, Saint Lucia has a small population that is facing an exodus problem as its people emigrate to other countries for a variety of push and pull factors. Putting policies in place that would attract and keep our most qualified citizens, and those with the most potential to contribute to the development of their home country from leaving should not be difficult.
Should the Philip J Pierre administration take the bull by the horns and from very early in its governance decides to focus on the four pillars of sustainability, and not be swayed unto a different path, then certain gains would register, which would go a long way in addressing challenges in capacity development. A crucial gain is that access to and quality of education would be improved which would result in the reducing of the rate of unemployed youths, which is unacceptably high in Saint Lucia. Putting the youth back into meaningful employment would help in the creation of an enabling environment for sustainable development.
Make no mistake, crime and violence undermines the progress of small island developing states and Saint Lucia is not the exception. We have heard it said many times that crime and violence could weaken a country’s social cohesion and growth, which in turn causes a lack of employment and economic opportunities and persistent poverty – in other words a self-sustaining spiral downwards.
The present government therefore must be strategic in the developments it pursues in the name of ‘Putting people and country first.’ White elephants are still dotting the Saint Lucian landscape, representing failed projects.
Saint Lucia is vulnerable to natural disasters, fluctuating global energy prices, climate change and more, that is why it cannot afford leadership that is bankrupt of ideas of a sustainable nature. We believe that the men and women voted into government last July have the qualifications Saint Lucia needs to take it into the path of sustainable development. And to keep it there.
We hope that our faith is not misguided and that the government stays true to the ideals of developing trends in sustainable development that would be emulated as time goes by.