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New Year resolution: Putting certainty into our uncertainties

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Fri, Jan 13. 2012

Editor: We have begun yet another year; some of us in eager anticipation, others in visible apprehension of what the future may bring.{{more}} One thing of which we all can be certain is that the coming year will present numerous uncertainties which must be managed either individually or collectively as a nation. One may ask these questions: What are some of these issues of uncertainty and how will we prioritise them?

The list includes, but is not limited to, the following issues. Continued global climate change which has significant implications for floods, droughts and the frequency and intensity of hurricanes; regional concerns, particularly for available transportation options to facilitate the movement of people and commodities; progress in CARICOM on many of the apparently stalled issues which affect the regions citizens; And at the national level, the effectively management of agriculture pest in addition to the export market for local products.

Obviously, there is no magic solution to address our uncertainties regarding the above mentioned issues. However, a sober, bi-partisan and multi-sectorial approach is needed to confront such challenges. One of the many options available for individuals or society is to further develop their coping and adaptive mechanisms by enhancing their education and skillsets. In some cases, it may require a radical shift in one’s mind-set. For example, let me elaborate.

The scientific community has agreed that there is a link between climate change and hurricanes intensity and frequency. By the law of averages, our number will come up sometime. Consider that hurricanes are getting more intense, frequent and whenever it strikes they can reverse a decade of development in a matter of hours- as in the case of Grenada; therefore, it is best that the populace implement “no- regrets” measures that can reduce the uncertainties of the outcome with such impact. In this case, it may require some persons to seriously consider changing their source of livelihood or location of residence; or as a nation to further develop alternative energy and potable water sources.

As a Caribbean region, air and sea transport is a critical component of development; they not only link people and economies but help to define our culture. Over the past years, low cost hassle free transportation was a major challenge. The way forward may not be easy, but an increase in the number of options for air transportation and a regional sea ferry transportation system for the movement of people and commodities should be seriously considered.

There is no doubt that a drastic reduction in export revenue from agriculture products was experienced last year. Of course, the farmers and the economy are hoping for a reverse in such downward trend. The problems in this sector are many and in some cases very complex. However, it is important that stakeholders consider the application of best practice to address the uncertainties in this sector: Our fore-fathers have made agriculture productive by implementing certain management and farming methodology. In looking back for solutions, it is important that a forward thinking approach be embraced. In this regard, the time is appropriate to intensify efforts towards producing and exporting more value added agriculture commodities. Of course, this can be done within a framework where current farming practise is in harmony with the modern era and that there’s access to niche markets.

As the months progress, let us work to reduce the uncertainties surrounding the most challenging issues facing us, by being more proactive and creative. We most likely may not be able to significantly influence negative global events, but our local actions can help in a small way to reduce it and to manage the adverse impact of these challenges on our lives and livelihoods and by extension our nation.

Neri James

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