By Melissa Rollock
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (BGIS) — The ministry of the environment and national beautification will be rolling out a ‘Clean and Green’ initiative in coming weeks in communities across Barbados.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, on Friday, for the inaugural Arborfest 2020, the island’s first tree festival, which was held under the theme: Trees Save Lives. Minister Adrian Forde touted the new project, which he said would not only enfranchise the ordinary Barbadian, but would save lives in the long-term.
“So, that is why we have started in this government a Clean and Green project. A project that recognises, of course, that Barbados must be beautiful and it must be clean. I am saying as minister of the environment and national beautification that there is no merriment in Barbados if it remains the way it is.
“We are going to change the landscape of this country … not only by putting the mechanisms in place in a physical way, but we are going to do it by involving every single Barbadian, every single community and most importantly, every single child. The children of this country must become active players in this whole project. They must understand that the garbage they dispose of is going to threaten the future generation of this country. So, it has an educational component because we must educate Barbadians to walk with us in this journey. Every single hand must clap and must connect in this process,” he outlined.
He added that the project would include competitions to incentivise young people to get involved in their schools and communities. Additionally, there will be an educational component to it with the objective of teaching Barbadians about proper waste disposal and the “four Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle and recover”.
Minister Forde noted that recycling and composting would be part of the initiative as well as the removal of bulk waste from communities. As its name indicates, the project will also have a greening component where “green spaces” will be created in each community. He pointed out that government’s initiative of planting a million trees was not a “whimsical episode” and was not frivolous “by any stretch of the imagination”.
“I want on the lips of every single Barbadian, one simple maxim that I am going to leave you with today – trees save lives … Arbor Day is every day; we should be planting trees in this country every single day. So, the noble thought of planting a million trees can only be achieved if every single Barbadian child understands the importance of planting that tree; understands the importance of … food security or biological diversity. […]
“So, we are going to give communities a clean space; a space to breathe easier and then we are going to [get into] the tree planting. Planting the trees is only one step; the next step is ensuring their longevity. Trees must be able to live 40, 50, 60 or even 70 years because over that life span they would be able to sequester the carbon dioxide [from the atmosphere] and produce oxygen,” he explained.
The environment minister noted that prior to COVID-19, global warming was the existential threat on the minds of everyone. He said Barbados had made certain commitments internationally to ensure that, as a country, its temperatures remained under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that it became carbon neutral by the year 2030.
Minister Forde disclosed that by year-end, the country would have detailed to the international community how it intends to reduce its output of carbon dioxide.
He said it was also the intention of government to start looking at “green tourism”.
“Tourists must be able to come to Barbados because they are able to breathe fresh air and for palliative care. They must be able to see Barbados as a green space. And when they come here they must be able to calculate in their minds, well, I have used this amount of aviation fuel, this is the amount of carbon dioxide that I have put in the atmosphere and this is what I will put [back] whether it is the planting of a tree, whether it is a fund that we will put for the green initiative to ensure that we reduce global warming. This is the type of conversation we need to have with Barbados,” he stated, adding it was his intention to make Barbados the greenest and cleanest country in the western hemisphere.