by Linda Straker
Grenada is fully committed to working towards a zero waste economy, which will provide the framework for sustainable management of waste in the region to protect the economy and the population.
“We recognise that waste is a valuable resource, an important source of energy, and that the current waste management practices are resulting in an economy and citizenry that are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” Prime Minister Mitchell told participants attending the 1st Caribbean Waste to Energy Conference and Expo, which opened in Grenada on Wednesday.
“A critical issue,” Dr Mitchell told participants who are representing CARICOM members and donors, “is that in the majority of Caribbean countries, imported petroleum is the chief source of primary commercial energy, while vast renewable energy resources remain to be developed.”
Though global oil prices are currently at their lowest levels in over a decade, the Prime Minister said that high and generally unpredictable oil prices have consistently retarded the competitiveness of regional goods and services.
“Scarce foreign exchange earnings that are being spent by our countries to pay for energy imports could be otherwise directed to alleviating poverty, adapting to climate change and sea level rise, or finance other critical interventions which are necessary for building our social, economic and climate resilience; thus increasing our ability to recover and respond which is the cornerstone of sustainable development,” he suggested.
To be addressed at this particular conference, is the liquid/effluent waste problem that is plaguing all countries and is manifested in the erosion of our beaches, oceans and the destruction of our agricultural base.
Speaking on the subject, Dr Mitchell who is the Minister with responsibility for Science and Technology within CARICOM — said that by turning pollution into energy, the region can prevent contamination of coral reefs and fisheries and allow them to recover. “By recycling the waste nutrients on land, we can avoid the need to import fertilizers,” he told the participants.
This 1st Caribbean Waste to Energy Technology Expo and Conference will provide the governments and people of the region with a unique opportunity to explore project options that are not only cost-effective systems for managing waste, but also generating base-load electricity and reducing dependence on costly, volatile and unsustainable liquid petroleum fuels.