by Wendy C Grenade, PhD
So we have discussed tourism and we have touched on the environment. I am proposing that a transformative political-economic model should have at its core:
- Climate adaptation and climate resilience;
- Revitalised agriculture to include agribusiness and a national and regional food strategy and policy;
- Regional Health Security as a core pillar for sustainability;
- Regional Niche Markets as part of an invigorated Caribbean Single Market and Economy;
- A digital revolution – Creating and utilising Information and Telecommunications technologies;
- An environment that empowers young people to maximise their creativity;
- Transnational joint ventures, in partnership with the Caribbean Diaspora;
- Affordable and reliable regional transport that utilises our air and maritime spaces;
- Within every sector there should be sensitivity around issues of gender, race and class
- A revolutionary approach to education that disrupts old modalities and mindsets
- Legal arrangements that promote access to justice for all.
I will expand on a few of these.
Regional Health Security as a core pillar for sustainability
We need to disrupt the disconnect between public health and economic development. I wish to commend the OECS for capitalising on its inheritance of a common currency and building institutions to sustain a deep form of sub-regionalism. The OECS must be applauded for its Pharmaceutical Procurement Service and its supply chain management systems. There is a World Bank-sponsored OECS Regional Health Project, which aims to improve health capacities in the Eastern Caribbean. Regional health security becomes important for economic viability and overall societal well-being. The OECS has a very sound Covid-19 response strategy. In addition to what is already being done, I wish to throw out some ideas for:
- Mobile Community Health Caravans to be set up periodically in communities throughout the OECS to promote a culture of preventative health.
- The establishment of An OECS Risk Management Facility to strengthen health capacity within the sub-region.
- The establishment of a Sub-regional Health Research Institute.
- As a larger diversification strategy, a Medical Institute for Traditional Medicine be established within the OECS sub-region.
- Enhanced training in biotechnology; laboratory technology, epidemiology etc.
- Use of an OECS member state to pilot a SMART health system
- A digital revolution – Creating and utilising Information and Telecommunications technologies
We need to disrupt the mindsets that limit our creativity. I referred to Hope earlier – that young woman who was born in 2020. The world she would inhabit and relate to, would be fundamentally different from ours. We cannot delay infusing ICTs in our quest for economic transformation. I know there is a lot that is already happening. There is need to intensify efforts on that front, as part of the new revolutionary disruption that is an imperative for the way forward.
There is such an opportunity for young persons to maximise their ingenuity to create and utilise digital platforms. The jobs of the future would cater for young people who can create industries, become specialist in software engineering; artificial intelligence, automation and build and manage information security systems, among other critical areas. Let’s use community centres as Institutes for Imagination and Creativity. I would love to see little girls and boys in my village, Marian, utilise the Marian Multi-purpose Center to create and innovate. I would love to see little girls and boys in Crochu utilise the Crochu Multi-purpose centre to optimise their creative energies. This is a moment for big thinking. Why can’t a Caribbean-style Silicon Valley begin in this Covid-19 moment?
There is a myth we have to debunk. That notion that Black people do not have what it takes to be entrepreneurial. We have to disrupt the narrative that says to us, we do not have what it takes to generate wealth – apart from sports and illicit activities. This is an opportunity to change that discourse. What do I mean by entrepreneurial? I am not speaking about a quick hustle to make a fast money for the sake of making money to top up phone or buy piece of jewellery. I am speaking about a deliberate approach to master what you are good at, come up with a business plan and utilise networks to grow forward. By this I mean, young people creating livelihoods for themselves and their families; generating employment and expanding their horisons beyond the myths that have so wrongfully defined us.
The orange economy is critical going forward. That refers to our creative industries. Music, mass, dance, films, etc. For example, the impact of Covid-19 should be captured in films and documentaries – One of the weaknesses in our region is that we do not sufficiently document. I am proposing that The UWI and SGU spearhead the production of films and documentaries that chronicle the lived experiences of a wide cross-section of Caribbean people during the various waves of the pandemic. This could include experiences from school children, teachers, women, farmers, small business owners, police officers, medical professionals, policymakers, economists, psychologists, social workers, mental health professions, and sisters and brothers from the Caribbean Diaspora. The documentary could highlight the faces of Covid-19 and some of the coping strategies employed. It could bring to the fore the success stories and the challenges. The objective is to capture the various dimensions of the pandemic for historical record. It could then be part of the Public Library and the National Archives in every Caribbean country. This could also be used as a teaching tool, demonstrating how small developing countries managed a pandemic. It could also be used as part of heritage tourism.
I wish to speak more directly to young people. What are you good at? If you are good at processing food as powder; fashion designing; creating music; arts, craft; writing poems, building things with your hands, whatever, you can use online platforms to launch your businesses in the region, in Latin America, in the Caribbean Diaspora and beyond. What about setting up an online platform to teach English to a group of young people in Brasil or Japan? How about creating animations and books to sell online? What about using an online platform to sell fashion jewellery or Caribbean designer clothes or your cul-in-nary specialities? How about partnering with an aunty or big sister in New York to organise markets for you? Dream beyond where you are. Create that future you deserve. Mind you, you may fail from time to time. But it is not about failing it is about getting back up again.
As we seek to develop new pathways toward recovery, we have to collectively disrupt the disruption caused by youth-on-youth violence so young people can benefit from safe, smart societies that are youth-driven. This is what the future demands! This is hard work and requires a whole of society approach. I encourage Civil Society Organisations to continue the good work they are doing in the area of youth development. Let’s partner to conduct workshops to assist our youth with the necessary tools to write business plans; to forge intra-regional and global networks. Workshops in marketing strategies for this new technological environment. Workshops in emotional intelligence; in ethics for business and knowing your legal rights in a cyber environment.
I call on the Bar Association to continue its legal education work. There is a role for the legal fraternity. As our societies evolve, there are areas of Law that are becoming more and more essential. Intellectual property; cyberlaw to protect users from online criminal activity; treaty Law; for example to settle regional trade disputes and international agreements. As societies become more complex, there is need for Human Rights Law to address issues of social justice – for instance on questions of race, gender, class; sexuality and Child rights. Environmental Law is essential as well. This lecture is dedicated to the memory of Mr Carol Bristol, QC. We need to build on the legal foundation that Mr Bristol and his generation laid. We also need to engage in justice sector reform to adapt to changing times. I am aware that quite a lot of work is being done in this area and I want to encourage you all to continue labouring in the vineyard. There is some unfinished business with constitutional reform in the Caribbean as well as the accession to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice by several Caricom countries. I call on the Bar Association of Grenada and other jurisdictions to continue the debates so the issues can be adequately ventilated.
Wendy Grenade is Senior Lecturer in Political Science, Department of Government, Sociology, Social Work & Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
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