11 Things Caribbean Islands Need to Do


By Dr Miguel Goede and Runy Calmera
CJ Contributors

In a recent article in this series about the Future of the Caribbean, we discussed the opportunities for managers, business owners and policy makers in the Caribbean. When seizing the opportunities there are do’s and don’ts. In this article we give a list of the do’s. Of course these are only suggestions, not rules, to guide the region.

1. Collect the water. Water is the essence of life. With climate change and pollution, clean water is not a guarantee. But water comes from the sky for free. Small island developing states (SIDS) should have a policy in place to collect and guarantee clean water.

2. Growing local food is of strategic importance. In an earlier article we showed the dependence on oil imports. Likewise, food is imported by most Caribbean islands. We see a significant import of goods (food) on the balance sheet of Caribbean islands. While it is impossible to be completely self-sufficient in food, SIDS should reduce their dependence upon import of food. This is possible given the enormous progress of technology in agriculture. This strategy also strengthens the links between the local agricultural sector and tourism.

3. Focus on sustainable development with special focus on climate change and rising sea levels and water. Development should not leave a footprint, meaning development should not be at the expense of the next generation.

4. Education for the information age, making and keeping people employable, including entrepreneurship, in a rapid changing world is key. It’s about giving our children the tools to survive in the information world. It’s about teaching them that life-long learning, continuously adapting to the ever changing world will be the norm. Education should not only focus on technology, but should be holistic and also teach ethics, citizenship, values and how to live a healthy life.

5. Focus on preventive health care instead of curative are. This is a strategy to turnaround or at least slow down the ever increasing costs of the Caribbean healthcare systems.

6. Guarantee the Rule of Law. Nobody is above the law. For a small island developing state to thrive there must be order. This is also immensely positive for the investment climate.

7. Put Good governance in place. This means more transparency and accountability, leading to better decisions and lower cost of doing business and lower cost of government. Ultimately good governance will result in higher quality of services to the people and higher productivity of Caribbean businesses, which will increase the competitiveness of the islands.

8. Good governance will then lead to a more equal distribution of income. This distribution could be influenced by a simple and progressive tax system.

9. Governments should be e-governments Take Singapore as the benchmark to beat. Services to the Caribbean populations and businesses can be made much more efficient and cost effective by using online applications and proven frameworks. More than this, Caribbean islands need to benefit from the next internet waves which are the Internet of Things and Big Data. But let’s first move beyond e-mail and static websites. This will lower the cost of government and provide better service. Caribbean islands do not have to reinvent the wheel. Proven technologies can and should be used.

10. Innovation in ICT, green and blue energy, not only to lower the financial costs but especially to reduce the Caribbean’s carbon footprint. Here Caribbean businesses could participate in joint ventures with foreign companies to use existing innovations in the Caribbean.

11. Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS) should develop, implement en monitor a long-term strategic plan or master plan, driving development towards 2030. In the plan, SIDS should select their niche and go for it. The key here is not only developing plans but focusing on implementation and monitoring of actionable plans with a long-term focus. Also bringing the businesses and the government together in a single strategy for the island.

Ultimately, this is all about empowering Caribbean society — not only the business sector but especially civil society; youth and even the grey power of the senior citizens. Everybody must be involved in creating the Caribbean’s future.

How do you think the Caribbean should implement these do’s into their business and policy? Let us know.

Miguel Goede is a strategist and trend watcher in the Caribbean. He is based in Curaçao and works for governments, corporations and NGO in the region. You can find out more on www.miguelgoede.com. Join the discussion on facebook Caribbean 3.0: https://www.facebook.com/groups/141167186078716/

Runy Calmera is an economist, consultant, trainer and coach on economic analysis and policy for the 52 small island developing states (SIDS). You can find out more on www.calmera.nl and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/policyinparadise.