“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” – Revelation 22:17 

Last Monday night, the Central Bank of Barbados hosted the 34th consecutive annual Winston Scott Memorial Lecture at the Frank Collymore Hall.  The new Governor, Dr. DeLisle Worrell, in announcing this year’s lecturer, said “the Bank was happy to have someone of Mr. Rifkin’s stature to continue the distinguished roster of Scott lectures”. He continued “Sustainable development is of interest to all Barbadians because our future quality of life depends on its wide implementation.  Rifkin is a proponent of commercially viable opportunities, which are the ones most likely to succeed”.

Jeremy Rifkin is the President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, a sustainable development non-profit organization, the mission of which is to examine emerging trends in science and technology, and their impacts on the environment, the economy, culture, and society.

He is an advisor to international governments on climate change, energy security and cutting edge technologies and duly delivered the lecture to a packed hall.  I cannot profess to have heard every word that he said, since the time of the lecture was in my twilight hour, but I gleaned from the lively interactive dialogue at the end that he had challenged the audience to some interesting thoughts around the topic The Third Industrial Revolution and a New Social Vision for the 21st Century”.

The Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon. David Thompson, in his address at the Launch of the Barbados Entrepreneurs’ Venture Capital Fund, which is designed for Quick Response had this to say: “We have been faced with one crisis after another. Over the past few years, we have witnessed the global triple “F” crises related to Fuel, then Food and, most recently, we have suffered and are still suffering from the effects of the Financial crisis”.

He continued: “Barbados as a small emerging open market economy, will not escape  the tsunami effects of the global crises as they wash up on our shores. The only thing we can do, other than fold our arms and ponder – which I don’t intend to do – is to respond with innovative and creative solutions to address the critical imperative to grow the size of the Barbados economy and by restoring and increasing our growth rates.  Sustainable economic growth and development can only take place in Barbados by building successful enterprises that are well managed, aggressive, innovative, civic-minded and attain high levels of performance”.

Jeremy Rifkin was on the same wavelength as Prime Minister Thompson but spoke more comprehensively and from an international perspective.  He addressed the challenges of devising triple “E” creative solutions related to Energy security, Environment and global Economic recovery.

He, like other proponents of sustainable development, argues that: “We are at a precarious point in history. We are facing the real prospect of an economic meltdown on the scale of the Great Depression. The credit crisis is compounded by the global energy crisis and the climate change crisis, creating a potential cataclysm for civilization. There is a way out – we need to radically overhaul the way we use energy in our society.”

If we do not address the issues of Energy security, urgently, the Energy crisis will be exacerbated and we may not be able to afford the price of fuel to sustain our economies.  It is therefore incumbent on our young people to act swiftly and get involved in the many areas of opportunity in renewable energy development so that, when the oil “runs out” one way or another, we shall be able to chart our path to sustainable success.

If we do not address the issues of Environmental protection urgently, the earth may not be able to support life as we know it and the Food crisis will be exacerbated.  Indeed, some people think that it is too late already to reverse the trend. It is therefore incumbent on our young people to act swiftly to mitigate the risk of further rapid decay and adapt to the new environment.

If we do not address the issues of Economic development urgently, the impact of the Financial crisis will linger, matched by a decrease in the socio-economic well-being. It is therefore incumbent on our young people to act swiftly to mitigate the risk of failure in the development of new enterprises hopefully through the adoption of the CBET Shepherding ModelTM.

The guru Peter Drucker has stressed that Leadership is about effectiveness and Management is about efficiency. I always remember his example that Leadership is about putting the ladder up against the right wall (effectiveness) and management is about climbing the ladder with the right mix of resources and tools to fix the problem on the roof (efficiency).

Jeremy Rifkin has identified the walls which lead to the roofs which need attention; it is now up to our leaders to heed his guidance and garner the managers to plan, organise, staff, direct and monitor and control the processes.  Let us also have fun doing it!

If our public and private leaders embrace a relationship with Him, if they establish a bond akin to bridehood, if they create a user-friendly enabling environment, if they nourish the essential elements of the triple “E” solutions, then our thirst will be satisfied and our path to survival will be blessed.