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Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeCommentaryOp-edEmbracing Sustainable Development in the USVI

Embracing Sustainable Development in the USVI

I just returned from a two-week trip to Ahmedabad, India and Lisbon, Portugal. The trip strongly reinforced my thinking about sustainable development, climate change and the need for the USVI (and the USA) to actively engage with the rest of the world on these and other global topics.
My major takeaway for the USVI from the two conferences I attended in India and my meetings with the University of Lisbon in Portugal was that the USVI has a great opportunity for moving toward a sustainable and prosperous future, if we choose to take it. There are countries throughout the world, like the two I just visited, that are taking an integrated approach to sustainable development, and we can learn from their experiences.
A tool (similar to ones completed for Portugal and India in 2001 and 2008, respectively) the USVI should use in planning for a sustainable and prosperous future is the multi-sector strategy to be developed under the climate change adaptation project (VICCAP) currently being initiated pursuant to Executive Order No. 474-2015 signed by Governor Mapp in October 2015. Over the next two years, the VICCAP will develop a USVI policy for climate change adaptation, assemble information related to climate change vulnerability and risk by sector, and develop a robust multi-sector USVI Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
I am enthusiastic about the VICCAP because it will assess USVI climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation capacities in a comprehensive and integrated manner. It will generate a single multi-sector strategy informed by the many plans and strategies developed by USVI departments and authorities, such as WAPA ‘s Integrated (Energy) Resource Plan, the VI Energy Office’s Energy Roadmap Analysis, VIWMA’s Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan, the Department of Public Works’ Transportation Master Plan, and the USVI 2015 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy. The VICCAP will yield a territory-wide strategy for developing the greater resistance and preparedness we need to face a future with progressively more extreme air and sea temperatures, tropical storm intensity, flooding and drought than we have experienced in the past.
In so doing the VICCAP has the potential to move the USVI toward development of a sustainable development plan for the territory, an action plan of which response to climate change is but one of many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Seventeen SDGs were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015, covering issues including poverty, hunger, water sanitation, economic growth and disparity, pollution, resource management, social justice, education and climate change, among others. The SDGs set an agenda for humanity and the planet to be acted upon by all nations and all peoples of the world between now and 2030.
The people and environment of the USVI will be better off as a result of our active participation in meeting these international economic, social and environmental goals; and our engagement can begin with the generation of the USVI Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.
Note: Paul Chakroff of St. Croix is the executive director of the VI Conservation Society.

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