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Caribbean
eco challenge
only 1% of global emissions, it is the most vulnerable region in the change, tourism, the environment and education. One of its
world because of the impact of climate change. Like tourism, climate objectives is to support the transition of the Caribbean into becoming
change presents as much of an opportunity as it does a challenge for the world’s fi rst carbon neutral – ie “non-polluting” – tourism region.
the Caribbean. Professor Stefan Gossling, a leading climate change expert and
As natural resources become scarce and global warming causes author, is one of the brains behind the original concept. He says:
climate change, the need to protect the fragile ecosystem becomes “Overall, we need to realise that many countries, particularly island
more urgent. Caribbean leaders now, more than ever, have no choice states in the tropics, are highly dependent on tourism, but we must
but to take action. also realise that climate change jeopardises the very foundation
Edwin Carrington, secretary-general of Caricom, the Caribbean for tourism in these islands. A pragmatic approach, with all its
economic organisation, said as much earlier this year at the shortcomings, is to focus on carbon neutrality.”
Caribbean Climate Change Conference. This is a time, he said, “when Part of the seed funding for Caribsave has been provided by
we must take bold steps by acting collectively as a region to deal Britain’s Department of International Development. The project has
with the complex and interrelated aspects of climate change. Failing an ambitious target of raising £21m over a three- to fi ve-year period
which, we would contribute toward the persistent poverty and to achieve its aims. The £240,000 seed fund will provide a six-month
further erosion of the quality of life and the economic viability of the pilot study of two Caribbean destinations: Eleuthera in the Bahamas
region and of the world.” and Ocho Rios in Jamaica. The former is famed for its coral reefs
The real challenge will be developing practical and innovative and pink, sandy beaches, while the latter attracts visitors keen to
solutions supported by all – the aviation industry, governments, experience Jamaica’s lush, verdant scenery and tropical waterfalls.
hoteliers, visitors and permanent residents. If we want to continue to The pilot islands are perfect examples of the diversity of the
enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean we all need to take responsibility Caribbean and the variant impacts of climate change.
for its preservation and protection. We need to do more than just For Harold Goodwin, director of the International Centre for
pay to offset the emissions of our long-haul fl ights which, to use Responsible Tourism, the impact begins even before travellers visit
Cheatneutral.com’s analogy, is no different to paying someone else hotels such as Rockhouse. “We need to convince people to ‘fl y smart’
to be faithful in their relationship because you can’t be in yours. It instead of fl ying dumb,” he says. “Choose to fl y with those airlines
might make you feel better but it doesn’t prevent you cheating. The making the biggest efforts to reduce the pollution they cause and
problem is still there. Nothing has changed. make charitable contributions to assist others to mitigate or adapt
As consumers, we need help to change our behaviour and as they deal with climate change.” He calls this approach “carbon
attitudes, through more awareness campaigns, to the way we travel. philanthropy”.
Rather than encouraging us to fund well-intentioned but ineffective The race to arrest climate change may not only “save” the
schemes, the future of Caribbean tourism will be in providing Caribbean but it ought to create a more viable economic and social
experiences that encourage people to stay longer and spend more, infrastructure for a new generation of socially responsible and
rather than just increase visitor numbers. entrepreneurial Caribbean people.
One leading current initiative in the region being pushed by
governments is Caribsave. This partnership between the Caribbean Zena Tuitt is a senior consultant in Ernst & Young’s advisory practice
Community Centre for Climate Change and the University of specialising in People and Organisational Change. She is studying for an
Oxford provides the region with a comprehensive and co-ordinated MSc in Responsible Tourism Management at the International Centre for
approach to addressing the complex relationship between climate Responsible Tourism at Leeds Metropolitan University
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