Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Regenerate Barbados
Barbadians should be looking for leadership that can do more than get Barbados out of its current COVID-19 depressed state.
Every election candidate should also have a vision for a future that is at the forefront of emerging directions for social and economic development. These new directions, mainly associated with ideas of individual and collective well-being and thriving, are becoming mainstream around the globe.
In a nutshell, plans for social and economic development that are based on pure economics are being replaced by those that address a broader suite of aspirations such as equitability, a clean and safe environment, access to decent work, and healthy recreational opportunities.
This was the approach that characterised Barbados’ policy making until the mid-1980s.
Our new understanding of the link between the economy and our ecosystems, and the realisation that climate change poses an existential threat to our small island states makes it imperative that we revitalise this thinking.
Notably, Barbados has in principle relied on the development strategies anchored in policies such as publicly funded education for all and the provision of free health services.
These social priorities have allowed this small island to leapfrog its human development potential to a level that rivals developed countries.
Most governments have tended to respond to difficult times by seeking to build their way out of them.
Capital expenditure projects (roads, buildings, etc.) certainly boost GDP in the short term, but cannot be the primary way forward to contribute to the well-being of Barbadians and residents.
Physical infrastructure, particularly in our coastal areas inevitably degrades the environment. It is an aspect of the economy that cannot go on forever, and particularly now as we are more conscious of our ecosystem limits and the threats of climate change.
The process of rebuilding the economy as we emerge from the pandemic provides an opportunity for embracing a broader vision of development, one that builds on a legacy of social justice, takes account of our new understanding of ecological limits and the threats posed by climate change, and incorporates the values of caring for each other, and the planet; cooperation and solidarity to counter the greed, selfishness and violence that characterise a society that places profits before the needs of people and the planet – features that are increasingly showing up in our society.
We challenge the candidates in the upcoming election to tell us how they plan to pursue new directions for thriving as a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable society – Buiding back differently!