Copyright © 2003 International Development Options
All Rights Reserved
Volume Three Winter 2002-Spring 2003 Numbers 1-2.
Theme: THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WEST INDIAN COMISSION REPORT: ASSESSING THE
PROGRESS OF CARICOM NATIONS IN IMPLEMENTING THE COMMISSION'S RECOMMENDATIONS
WHERE IS THE ENVIRONMENT IN CARIBBEAN DEVELOPMENT THEORY AND PRAXIS?
Dennis Conway and Benjamin Timms
Department of Geography,
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Published online: February 10, 2017
During the colonial and post-colonial periods, the small islands of the Commonwealth Caribbean were not and have not been short of economic development models. However, a review of these main development models reveals a distinct lack of concern about population-environment relations and with environmental conservation. Eventually, it was the much-maligned tourist industries’ remarkable resilience and growing dominance that finally brought environmental concerns to the fore. Specifically, concerns for a sustainable tourism and for a better coastal zone management policy were challenges the region needed to address. The call was for a “Time for Action,” to encourage regional institution building and policymaking which would forge a path toward a sustainable twenty-first century, and where economic and ecological vulnerabilities would be countered and sustainable development achieved.
Unfortunately, micro-state maneuverability in the current neoliberal macro-world is becoming highly constrained, and environmental management goals are treated like other non-economic objectives, namely, as unfortunate casualties. Despite the secondary status of environment concerns in previous Caribbean development models, and the token presence of environmental dimensions in current models, there appears to be a growing recognition among regional policymakers and the Caribbean “development community” that environmental and ecological issues must feature in future sustainable development models. We propose that serious consideration be given to some of Herman Daly’s ideas that environmental sustainability and economic growth need not be opposing goals. However, we do not see his “steady-state economics” as a viable model. Rather, Daly’s “soft growth” path towards sustainability makes the most sense for the insular Caribbean.