“You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are His offspring'” – Acts 17:20, 28

The signal of climate change and the resulting deleterious impact of sea-level rise on small island states and coastal communities around the world were discussed in great detail at the 1994 United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in Barbados.

The output from the conference – the “Barbados Programme of Action” – was well documented and disseminated but nothing significant has happened to implement it over the last 14 years. Probably because everybody is responsible but yet nobody is responsible.

The advent of sea level rise, albeit gradual, threatens our comfortable existence as the sea encroaches on to our shoreline. We have done precious little, as compared to what we could have done as a global people, in terms of preventing climate change, brought on by global warming, and now we are faced with a potential crisis if not in the immediate future, a crisis which could affect our children and grandchildren. Can we act now to avoid this crisis? Maybe it’s too late, but yet we cannot ignore it. It is reported that, by the year 2070, if the sea level rise continues at its current rate, or at an increased rate, 1,400 hotels around the coast of Florida will be no more. What will the statistics be for Barbados and the other Caribbean islands which depend quite heavily on tourism as the major productive sector? In the Pacific, some atolls have already been threatened.

In another context we are threatened by price-level rise in the fuel and food sectors. We have done precious little, as compared to what we could have done as a global people, in terms of preventing economic climate change, brought on by an imbalance of traditional fuel reserves and unwillingness to respect the need for food security, and now we are faced with an immediate crisis. What can we do to avert the crisis? We cannot rely on the generosity of those who control the oil reserves since there are geo-political overtones, nor can we turn back the clock and wish that our food supply was secure. We shall just have to fight our way out of it by controlling our use of fuel, changing our diet to reduce the food bill (which may also prove to be of greater nutritional benefit) and by growing more of what we eat and reduce the food import bill.

As I indicated in last week’s column, we need to increase the size of the economic cake so that we can, on average, earn more and consequently reduce the impact of the increase of fuel and food prices.

The challenge today is to recognize that sustainable socio economic development cannot take place unless we can boast of a continuing series of successful enterprises. We have been promoting the CBET Shepherding Model as a method of doing this.

In response to the CBET Shepherding Model, Dr. Kurt Lambert, a Barbadian resident in Switzerland, had this to say: “Great concept and I can see the potential impact on bridging the economic divide through development of an entrepreneurship class of Barbadians – through provision not only of the capital but equally importantly through provision of the skill sets, the values and the professionalism that are needed to compete long term in an open market.”

He added, “I have had the opportunity to meet quite a few aspiring business owners at home and I have concluded that while capital is a stumbling block, there are some basic yet key qualities often missing and these include a strong drive to succeed, an unwillingness to sacrifice and often a lack of professionalism. These latter points must be addressed if we are to move ahead as a nation and create real wealth from productive activities and not rely primarily on tourism receipts, real estate and remittances. And that is why I find your proposal interesting as it largely addresses the soft yet absolutely crucial aspects of developing an entrepreneurship class of Barbadians by going beyond just providing capital. Keep me updated.”

My response was: “Yes, the shepherding is key if we are going to effect mind-set and cross-cultural communication change. Skill-set change is easier.”

Another comment from Dr Eddie Molloy of the Advanced Organization in Ireland on the CBET Shepherding Model is: “This is powerful stuff. In Ireland, Enterprise Ireland has a range of services for High Performance Start-Ups and a separate set of supports for companies with “Scaling” potential. You might check their web site to see what they do. The sums of money involved in your initiative are not big and I think it would be worth seeing if philanthropists would be willing to support the whole concept.”

My son Bevan sent me the following SmartQuote this week from Alex Osborn, member of the Advertising Hall of Fame – Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud.”

Let us reward creativity among entrepreneurs and visionaries with praise and hide those negative remarks.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business

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