By Basil Springer

Sustainable development, at its heart, is the simple idea of ensuring a better quality of life for everyone now and for generations to come. A widely-used international definition is 'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'. The concept of sustainable development has been around for a number of decades. <>   Although the idea is simple, the task is substantial. It means meeting four objectives at the same time, in the UK and the world as a whole: social progress which recognises the needs of everyone; <>   effective protection of the environment; <>   prudent use of natural resources; <>  and maintenance of high and stable levels of economic growth and employment <> - <>  

In my last column "The Legacy beyond 2007", I espoused a vision which resulted in the following thought how best can we use the augmented infrastructure, the expected increase in service quality, the enhanced logistics management skills, to introduce innovative tourism linkage projects which would result in sustained tourism growth.

Let us assume that the increased tourism growth from the natural legacy of World Cup 2007 takes place as expected and let us also assume that we obtain a further component of tourism growth by taking advantage of opportunities which arise from expansion of hotel plant and of enhanced sports facilities. In both cases there will be increased demand for diversified tourism services, beyond sun, sand and sea and the traditional points and events of interest.   

World Cup 2007 is expected to result in increased service quality and logistics management skills and we must therefore identify projects which will absorb these enhanced resources. One such concept is The Future Centre which is currently being promoted by Counterpart Caribbean, a member of the Counterpart International family which focuses on sustainable development issues.  

The Future Centre, at Edgehill in St. Thomas, Barbados is an educational and scientific exhibition for visitors and residents alike and holds special appeal for children as they learn what they need to do today, to protect the earth for their children and grandchildren.  Our Mission is "To stimulate awareness of, and address the need for, sustainable development in the physical, economic, social and cultural life of Barbados and the Caribbean".

Development is inevitable, but development and environmental stewardship need not be incompatible goals.  We are demonstrating ways in which opportunities can be grasped and the problems associated with development can be solved. The exhibits include: climate change, garbage separation, reduce ˆ reuse ˆ recycle, composting, traffic congestion, renewable energy, preserving our past-protecting our future, biodiversity, organic farming, under water challenges and cultural awareness. Some of these suggestions are demonstrated by exhibits created by Barbadian children.

We are demonstrating to individuals and businesses how they may become more competitive by using human and material resources more effectively and efficiently and consequently stepping lightly‚ on the earth. This model may be extended throughout the Caribbean.

At present The Future Centre is visited by students from kindergarten to tertiary level, and children attending holiday camps who use it as an information source for school and college environmental projects.  

Our aim is to develop this activity much further so that eventually The Future Centre will attract droves of tourists, residents and children in the same way that the UN SIDS Village of Hope experienced a massive in-flow of visitors over a two-week period in 1994.

Counterpart Caribbean is structured to be a financially self-sustaining operation.  However, the following analogy might be instructive: As parents have the responsibility for the development of a child before the child is ready to face the economic world on its own, so, too, must Counterpart Caribbean find Œgodparents‚ to support its activities during this development phase.  

Counterpart Caribbean is appealing to the social partner community to act as godparent during the development phase of our activity.  Our target is to have a visitor attraction well on its way to the quality of the Smithsonian Institution by World Cup 2007. To this end we are mounting a fundraising event in the form of an inaugural annual Golf Tournament on September 07 2004 at Royal Westmoreland Golf Club, St. James.  Many companies have already committed to sponsor teams of four but space is still available.  The round of golf should provide great relaxation and will be followed by a reception where prizes will be awarded.

The third annual Luncheon of The Cardiac Support Group of the Heart Foundation of Barbados will be held at The Future Centre on Sunday September 19 on which occasion patrons will have the opportunity to view the exhibits in their present state.  The funds raised at this event will go towards supporting invasive cardiac surgical patients and their families.
We are also having discussions with Counterpart International and local and regional   public and private institutions with whom we will partner in our quest to aspire to this challenging goal.

Sustainable development issues are global and hence very relevant to tourists.  It is expected that The Future Centre will be developed so that it will be a must‚ to visit on every tourists‚ programme,  hence our source of financial viability.  Smithsonian, here we come!

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. (CBET) -