“Your statutes are my heritage forever, they are the joy of my heart” – Psalm 119:111

Heritage – Heroes and History!

Heritage (Practices that are handed down from the past by tradition); Heroes (Men and women distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility and strength); History (The aggregate of past events).

Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Whatever your preferred perspective, our past helps to shape sustainable development for posterity. Over the last week in Barbados there were events to celebrate National Heroes Day, Labour Day and the exploits of Rev. Dr. Wesley Winfield Hall who has had a distinguished career in cricket, politics, commerce and matters ‘of the cloth’.

I attended a National Heroes function at National Heroes Square where we were treated with addresses and cultural (drama, song and dance) presentations on the contribution of one of Barbados’ National Heroes, The Right Excellent Samuel Jackman Prescod (1806 – 1871), whose fight was for truth and justice. Prescod became the first black parliamentarian in June 1843, after the complete abolition of slavery in 1838.

I was also able to attend part of the “Unveiling of the Bust of Wes Hall” function at St. Giles Primary School, where the feature address was delivered by the honouree, in his inimitable style, with aplomb, humour and serious advice for the youth.

On the subject of Labour Day, it was reported in the press “We are fortunate that, on balance, Barbados measures very favourably against other societies. If our reality were different, this country would not be singled out as a worthwhile model, as indicated on the United Nations Human Development Index. That status substantially reflects what the workforce has enabled us to achieve. So workers must surely be doing something right.

There was a time when Japan produced goods, mostly copies of Western products, of highly dubious quality. Commitment to and implementation of higher standards eventually took that nation into the vanguard of developed countries. China and India are vigorously following the same pattern.

Like Barbados, neither Japan nor China is abundantly endowed with natural resources other than human beings. But low-paid workers in Barbados receive princely sums when compared to what the two Oriental giants shell out to employees in a similar category.

Among the qualities which give those nations their huge economic edge are minds trained to regard work, not as servitude as some elsewhere do, but as the embodiment of virtue, an expression of patriotism almost as much as a means of self-fulfillment. The lesson in this is simple: That we in this part of the world have a long way to go, should not deter us from attempting the journey to excellence”.

These three celebrations are statutes of heritage that have induced joy in our hearts.

Counterpart Caribbean at the Future Centre, a sustainable development organisation has just quietly observed its fifth anniversary. CPC promotes the protection of the spiritual, cultural, social, economic and physical environments and has recently been fortunate to include on its board of directors, Dr Noel Brown (former Head of the UN Environmental Programme and now Chairman of the Friends of the United Nations), Mrs. Gail Moaney, Executive vice President of Ruder Finn, a premier global public relations firm and Andria Hall a former CNN anchor and now President of SpeakEasy Media Inc.

Dr Brown has recently introduced me to the RUM Alliance from Japan. No, not the spirit, RUM is an acronym for “Re-Use Motorization”. The RUM Alliance seeks to improve the earth’s environment, in both Japan and the rest of the world, and promote and work towards the move from a competitive to a cooperative and symbiotic society, and from a ‘waste’ society to a ‘no waste’ society in which companies work to conserve the environment.

Up until now, since many motor vehicle recycling companies have been very small-scale enterprises, each one of them has operated to obtain used cars for scrapping, and sale of parts both within Japan and overseas. However, there was a limit to what one company could achieve on its own. Nationally, the illegal abandonment of discarded motor vehicles has impacted heavily on the environment.

This trend must be discontinued. As such, several environmentally like-minded motor vehicle recycling companies have joined together to create the RUM Alliance and work together to pool their strengths and to achieve a society that recycles its waste products, on a worldwide scale.

Its members, who are scattered all over the nation (127 million population), are aiming to achieve a ‘zero environmental impact’ by carrying out effective and stable re-use of all of ELV(End of Life Vehicles) through such measures as efficiently separating the parts and materials from used vehicles, circulating these parts and materials effectively both within Japan and internationally, and increasing recycling efforts.

Further, members of the RUM Alliance promote together and collaborate with local academic, business, and governmental circles to develop methods, equipment and technologies to aid in the disposal of used motor vehicles and the re-use of waste products. Would it not be wonderful if this activity could be extended to the Caribbean to dispose of our derelict vehicles, a contribution to cleaning up the physical environment?