“Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path” – Psalm 27:11
The Brundtland Commission’s report (1987) defined sustainable development as: “Development which meets the needs of current generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The principles of sustainable development are not only associated with the Earth‘s environment, but also with social factors, cultural diversity, economic growth and spiritual awareness. Sustainable living is a lifestyle that is highly interrelated with the overall principles of sustainable development.
What progress has the Caribbean made since the Second World War towards sustainable development? What are the prospects for sustainable living in the future?
A major “environmental” inhibiting factor to sustainable development in the Caribbean is the propensity to attract hurricanes. Caribbean residents are undoubtedly familiar with the adage pertaining to hurricanes “June too soon; July stand by; August a must; September remember; October all over”. The recent tropical storm and hurricane history might, however, challenge the adequacy of the adage at either end. This type of environmental disturbance and its attendant potential to devastate plays havoc with our attempt to maintain infrastructure and sustain agriculture. We have made some progress but must continually enhance our early warning, preparedness and recovery systems in order the mitigate the impact of such potential devastation as a part of our sustainable living lifestyle.
Social factors relate to people and their behaviour. Our people are our most important asset; therefore we must develop them to the fullest. The major “social” inhibiting factor to sustainable development in the Caribbean is low labour productivity. The inherited pedagogical system is no longer appropriate for our needs. We have to adopt a manpower needs approach and then get people functional in the shortest possible time with a mix of academic and experiential learning. We have taken steps to establish productivity councils, labour unions have been counselled that they should change their strategy from a focus on getting better wages and working conditions for their constituents to fostering relationships between employers and employees to enhance productivity for fair compensation. The promotion of synergy of interaction between labour, technology and process flow productivity will also enhance the sustainable living lifestyle.
Cultural heritage, cultural and creative industries, sustainable cultural tourism, and cultural infrastructure can serve as strategic tools for revenue generation, particularly in developing countries given their often-rich cultural heritage and substantial labour force. Of particular relevance is the cultural sector’s contribution to the economy and poverty alleviation. The Caribbean is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-culinary, multi–genre (musical) and multi-lingual region but the major “cultural” inhibiting factor is the failure to realise that culture is a business and we must implement the supportive enabling environment to exploit this resource.
Economic growth can only take place one successful enterprise after another. One of the major “economic” inhibiting factors to sustainable development in the Caribbean is that the failure rate of all enterprises is alarmingly high and hence this inhibits the rate of economic growth. The reasons why these businesses fail are more than likely due to a weakness in the understanding and the management of the business systems involved. We must reduce this failure rate by introducing a solution such as the CBET Shepherding Model which is an experiential training model where shepherding mitigates the risk of business failure. Of the businesses that succeed, what is the correlation between the promoters of these successful enterprises and the type of pedagogical system under which their training evolved? How many leaders of successful business have gone through the tertiary education academic stream?
Hitherto, Commercial banks have accepted the high business failure rates and have introduced risk management systems which are not perfect because they still result a non-zero balance sheet item “provision for loan losses”. Traditional venture capitalists expect a low rate of success from their investee companies but they expect that the ones that are successful will more than make up for the ones which are not. As the shepherding concepts gains traction on the ground, to mitigate the risk of business failure, then both commercial banks and traditional venture capitalists can rest more comfortably as far risk is concerned.
Albert Einstein once said: “Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” I interpret this to mean that we have to be creative and innovative; we have to think outside of the box we have to be open to Divine ideas. The major “spiritual” inhibiting factor to sustainable development in the Caribbean is the paying of lip service to spiritual awareness. An individual will seldom deny that he/she is spiritually aware but do they really understand the message “Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path”. Is there some confusion between being religious and spiritual awareness? I think there is and would humbly suggest that each individual should widen their spiritual perspectives in the interest of developing a sustainable living lifestyle. As the Daily Word reports: “If I am struggling to find a solution to a troublesome problem, I might feel stuck with no seemingly viable options. To stop churning over the problem and see the situation from a higher perspective, I pause for a break; I step away to do something fun or creative…engaging in playful pursuits can refresh and relax my mind, opening me to divine ideas. No longer tense from straining for answers, I create space for divine solutions to arise in my awareness.” Dr. Deepak Chopra would say “Meditate, meditate, meditate!”