Friday, December 14, 2012

When President's Cry

Twenty seven lives, among them 18 innocent babies of heartbroken parents. As their loss brings the President of the United States to tears on National television we are reminded that the loss of innocent lives by violence of any means is harsh, inhumane and should not happen - for any reason.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Oh The Places We'll Go!"

I'm sure Dr. Seuss won't mind me adapting the title of his ever-so-insightful children's poem, since it so perfectly mirrors the journey of my hotel clients. The most recent news comes in the form of a new conference hosted by the Grenada Private Sector Organization (GPSO). This is a coalition of the Hotel and Tourism Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Employers Federation.

The focus of the press conference was to alert the public to the seriousness of the economic contraction in Grenada, including; the troublesome level of business closures to-date; and the further business closures anticipated in the future. Part of the critique presented by the GPSO in the press conference was an emphasis on the immediate need for solutions and the apparent lack of urgency on the part of the government. All around, most critics would say there's been a lot of meetings but those meetings had not resulted in action.

The media - not surprisingly - made the press conference a political issue, which is how the media works in an election year. Their reports focused on the criticism of the government with little coverage of the economic warning being issued. And so the circus began, with a series of back-and-forth's between Government Ministers and members of the private sector. Most of the melee has played out in the media, but in my case I had the honour of having a government Minister remark to my clients that the government was not happy they were employing me - inferring of course that it would be better for them to let me go. For fear of getting way off track - I will rant about my constitutional right to work another day(I illustrated Grenada's constitutional rights for a UNDP project in 2009, and I know that document well!).

According to the Government, they established a Hotel Sector Emergency Working Group that has had several meetings and tabled many ideas. This is completely true. However,in their view, this is an indication of their responsiveness and the reason why they believe the criticisms put towards them are unjustified. The trouble is, meetings without results aren't a solution.

As many of my clients have remarked behind closed doors "What constitutes an emergency for this government?".

Why the emergency? 1/3 of the hotels in Grenada have closed and many more are about to follow suit. The sector is the largest earner of foreign revenue in Grenada, and among the largest employers in a country with an unemployment rate soaring near 40%.

It doesn't take an economist to figure out what further closures could do to a small island micro-economy with a population of 100,000.

Thankfully though, even though a lot of government officials were annoyed - things are starting to change already. Whether that is seen as too little too late, or something being better than nothing is up to my clients.

A press release issued by the Government yesterday, announces that 8000 energy efficient LED lights have been donated to Government and that the GHTA will be getting some of them. That's good (and surprising) news, because the GHTA wasn't slated to get anything from this round of donations, we were up for the next round in a couple of months. Needless to say, the GHTA will sing the praises of the government if and when the LED's are given to them.

It's also encouraging to see the Energy Division informing us of a soft loan facility offered by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) for renewable energy investments. It would have been a great opportunity if the law (and GRENLEC) had given us permission to set up our solar farm, but since GRENLEC has refused even though the financing is out there to do it - we can't. I won't give up on this opportunity though since the best offer on the table from GRENLEC was 100kW solar panels on the rooftops of buildings. At the time we refused it because 100% of the energy produced from the system would be sold to GRENLEC at a rate they set (around $0.40 cents per kWh) and energy would be sold back to the hotels at approximately $1.10. It's not like other countries where you install a panel and use what you need and sell surplus to the utility if there is any.

So with our eyes turned to energy efficiency as a way to reduce consumption by as much as 50% - It's very encouraging to see that funding may soon be forthcoming from a government department to implement one energy audit conducted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association CHENACT Programme. The purpose will be to measure whether the forecast savings are realized when implemented as directed, how much disruption it causes to do so (for example, can the work be done with guests on the property)and to what extent savings are realized. After all, energy efficiency claims should be taken with a grain of salt, it would be really problematic if cash-strapped properties borrowed money to retrofit only to find that like many energy efficient cars - 30mpg advertised is actually 20mpg in real world situations.

We must also be encouraged that within the same two weeks, there's apparently been a conversation between the government and SIDSDock about the desire to assist the sector energy and economic recovery goals, with some speculation that funding might be organized through the Caribbean Development Bank also. I do hope this comes to fruition, but I remain concerned that the solutions will be soft-loan based.

The only soft loans the sector can consider now are ones to refinance existing debt. It is simply unsustainable to contemplate economic recovery solutions that are predicated on increasing debt.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pacific Islands go 100% Solar

I don't usually "Re-Post" work from other sources, but when the story is good and makes a point I'll do it (source acknowledged of course!). This story, written by Peter Madden, came to me via the SIDSDock newsletter. In the race for Sustainability, the Pacific Islands are our partners and our steepest competitors!

I must add, once more, for those who've been following our development adventure in Grenada, that it would have been SO great if the Government had allowed the Hotel and Tourism Association proposal to SIDSDock to be submitted. It could have financed the reduction of electricity costs by over 50%.

And now...on to the good news (unfortunately not in Grenada, however)


Pacific islands drop diesel for 100 percent solar power
Posted: 11 Nov 2012 04:38 PM PST
Source: Alertnet // Peter Madden

Solar panels have replaced diesel generators on Tokelau, an island grouping in the South Pacific. Photo: PowerSmart Solar

by Peter Madden

The island nation of Tokelau switched on the third and final installment of its new solar energy grid last week, earning praise around the world as the first country to become entirely solar-powered—except it’s not a country.

Made up of three tiny tropical atolls – a few specks in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean – Tokelau is a dependent territory of New Zealand, whose government’s international aid and development programme advanced the $7 million to fund the project, aimed at replacing Tokelau’s diesel-powered energy grid.

“Electricity expenses make up a huge portion of their budget in Tokelau, which makes it hard for them to invest and look toward the future, so there’s a very clear financial argument for this system,” said Michael Bassett-Smith, managing director of Powersmart Solar, New Zealand’s largest solar power company, which directed the project.

Now, as a result of the project, “not only does the New Zealand aid programme save money from not having to import diesel, but Tokelau has a very clear sense of the price of their energy.”

Though its economy runs almost entirely on the sale of fishing licenses and Internet domain names and the atolls boast “at most” five motor vehicles, Tokelau still imported over 2,000 barrels of diesel per year at a cost of $1 million New Zealand dollars ($825,000) to provide electricity to its approximately 1,400 people.

According to Mika Perez, Tokelau’s director of economic development, natural resources and the environment, the jump to solar power is both a cost-saving measure and a commitment to environmental sustainability on the frontier of climate change.

“The industrial nations are contributing to climate change through emissions of fossil fuels into the atmosphere, affecting Tokelau, indirectly, quite a bit,” said Perez. Now, “Tokelau will take the lead in harnessing the sun to provide renewable energy, and other countries will look at us and know that we are doing something about it, and they should do their part.”


At no more than two meters (6 feet) above sea level, Tokelau is particularly vulnerable to climate change and will be among the first to feel its effects. According to Perez, the islands have already experienced significant coastal erosion.

Perhaps the good news, not only for Pacific islanders but for the industrialized world as well, is that the challenges overcome to install 4,032 solar panels on islands 500 kilometers (300 miles) from their nearest neighbors were logistical rather than technical.

How do you transport a heavy piece of equipment from a ship to a skiff to a coral atoll? How do you correct mistakes from nearly 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) away? How do you convince the locals that coconut trees have to be cut down to clear land for the construction of a cement foundation? These questions — and countless others — had to be answered to make the project work.

“We want to do more in the Pacific,” said Bassett-Smith of PowerSmart Solar, “and we have a fine delivery system now. …. The cost of electricity is going up. Momentum is on our side.”

Peter Madden is a US-based writer who formerly lived in New Zealand and Australia.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Most people would think that a wise consultant would avoid the subject of 'discouraged' clients, groups, people, etc. But it's important to share how and why this phenomenon is experienced, because it happens to just about every group and every individual that has ever pursued the achievement of results - unless of course, they're very lucky to never run into obstacles.

Grenada has a lot of discouraged people right now, so this reflection might have value for some who work (or used to work, since unemployement is estimated near 30-40%) in office/team environments.

Signs of discouragement

1. Being discouraged is not the same as giving up, so you probably won't be hearing people say they're ready to thow in the towel just yet. What you will see is a drain on enthusiasm.
2. If your project involves group input, you will find people taking more time to respond to communication.
3. You will also find the use of sentences that begin with "I can't believe's" and "How could that" and a whole host of We/I "Should have's" or "Should we?" questions that indicate people's resolve is waining.
4. Meetings get harder to organize because the project/activity is coming second to other activities in people's lives.
5. Discouragement is also expressed with slipping deadlines. There are always people who don't make their deadlines, so they're not the ones to watch. Pay attention to the people who are usually the first to volunteer themselves for a task, and the first to get their work done.
6. Increasing signs of fatigue. Precious few things can make a person feel soul-drained tired than working hard for something that isn't generating a 'return'.

"What do you do?

Well achieving some results helps, but successes worth having aren't usually earned overnight so this is the time when creativity and patience have to find their way to the forefront.

1. Inject some humour in whatever you're doing. Humour is a really great way to strengthen interpersonal bonds, particularly among team members. Working through frustrations with humour also provides an opportunity for people to share their feelings of frustration and discouragement while avoiding the negative consequences of a 'complaining session'.
2. Avoid 'complaining'! Complaining only focuses more energy on the things that are not working in your favour and that's not going to keep you focused on your goal.
3. Acknowledge feelings. Even though there's still a lot of gender bias ascribed to 'feelings' (particularly in the professional context) if there's an elephant in the room it's better to acknowledge it's presence than to ignore it and hope it goes away. For example, if you're going to a meeting (board, planning, stakeholder, etc.) and you know the group/issue is facing a lot of problems it might be prudent to say so right up front. "I'm really frustrated by the all the walls we've encountered" might get a lot of nods of agreement from a discouraged group, which helps reinforce the shared bonds you have. However, if you're going to point out an elephant, you'll really be a hero if you've got some ideas about what to do about it.
4. Bring new ideas to the table. Sometimes, when progress with an idea/project starts to stagnate it's because the ideas aren't fresh anymore. Sometimes it's because the people you're trying to work with (partners, stakeholders) aren't invested, committed, sold on the idea or their competing interests are more important to them than your priorities are. If you're trying to partner with people who are difficult to work with, maybe it's time to rework the idea with new partners or on your own. Whatever the reason, it's always good to keep an eye on 'buy-in'.
5. Rage against the machine!...............As a last resort. This option is usually more appealing to younger generations who have less ties and responsibilities to sacrifice, but because of this, when an 'established group' of people say "enough"!! people do tend to pay attention. Good tactics to use for this option include - media campaigns, community meetings, speeches, press releases, protest marches, boycotts, etc.

The last thing I can offer up for anyone who's feeling disccouraged right now is to remember that even if you do everything right, and even if you try really hard....sometimes things don't go the way you expect/want them to. When that happens to me, I usually rely on faith, because I genuinely believe most things happen for a reason.

I'll give you an example. I was recently selling my old utility vehicle. I had an offer on it and was really excited about getting my brand new eco-car (low emmissions, high fuel economy). When the buyer pulled out the morning the sale was to take place I felt frustrated, angry and very dissapointed because I'd been looking forward to getting into my new car! I didn't let the feelings linger long because I reminded myself that things happen for a reason. Later that day we got a suprise call to say some sheep we'd planned on buying had been put on a boat and were on their way over from a nearby island. If I'd sold my car that morning as intended, I would not have had a suitable vehicle to transport the sheep to our land. Our car sold 4 days later to people far more deserving of our old reliable vehicle.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

GHTA Creates Energy Retrofit Lottery Project

As the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) continues to wait for the Government to give the nod to SIDSDock for our USD $500,000 proposal to cut energy consumption in half (The "GRRR" you think you read in that isn't subliminal, it's right there on the surface!) - the GHTA has turned its attention to other donors.

One of them comes via the National Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Implementation Unit, who contacted the GHTA recently to inform us that they had funding obtained through the Caribbean Development Bank(CDB) CARTFund (which is money given by the British Government via the CDB). It's a funding mechanism quite similar to SIDS in that the CARTFund requires government endorsment to obtain funds - but fortunately in this case the grant has already been awared to the EPA Unit and depending on the quality of our propsal, we may be beneficiaries of their efforts (I have a 100% approval rating on proposals I design, so if the offer is legit, I'm confident!).

The problem is it's only XCD $100,000 which isn't a lot of money when you consider that we intend to use it to procure internationally manufactured technology.

Somthing is better than nothing!

The up-side is that my clients are likely to be able to obtain the funds much more quickly than the traditional planning-proposal-approval-disbursement cycle (which is usually 2-3 years with most donors) and my clients have been given a lot of flexibility to chose how the funding will be spent.

The Board of Directors, at my advice, have chosen to use the funds to implement one of the four energy audits already done on hotels in Grenada. It's only enough to implement a portion of an audit so it'll probably be used for the biggest energy draw (air conditioning) and it will only reach one property.

Why use this money in one place instead of design a project that could do something else?

A few reasons:

1. Four energy audits have been done on hotels in Grenada. None have been implemented.
2. There are a lot of benefits to be derrived by 'proving' that implementing the audits work
3. Showcasing the results helps engage Members who will have to maintain a high level of committment for our larger project to succeed.
4. From a project management point of view, it's better to have a line up of hotels wanting audits and to implement than to chase to get things done.
5. Having an example of the complete audit-implement-record results cycle significantly strengthens our fundraising capacity.
6. No matter which property in Grenada, energy cost savings are urgently needed so it will be money well spent.

Since the purpose of using these funds is to demonstrate the value of implementing the audits, there are only four properties who will be eligible for the funding. Added to this, if any of those four properties want this funding, they will have to be willing to be transparent enough to be used as a case study. It is possible some will be more willing than others. So - once those criteria are met, the properties names will go into a glass/jar/box (whatever) at the AGM and the name will be pulled.

It seems like a very fair and very effective way to approach things. We probably won't know for sure that the funding will be awarded until a week or two after the AGM so it'll be a bit of a muted celebration for the awardee until then, but Executive Director, Pancy Cross thought this was the most democratic way to proceeed and I whole-heartedly agree with her.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hotel Sector Waits for Government to Submit SIDS Dock Proposal

When the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association began the journey to become the first Zero Carbon Hotel Sector in the region, a mechanism called 'SIDSdock' had been identified as a possible funding source.

The term SIDS refers to small island developing states, and if you live on one, it's a term you hear a lot. If you don't live on one, chances are it's a term you've never heard of before. The SIDS grouping blossumed as a leading advocacy grouping of countries who would be most affected by climate change. Grenada is a small island developing state that will be profoundly affected by climate change, but thanks to our mountains we'll still have an island(s) as sea levels rise - other flat, low lying islands might not be so lucky as to look forward to a continued existence.

How is this related to the Hotels waiting for the government to submit their proposal? Well, SIDS Dock was a funding mechanism developed specifically for financing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies and the hotels zero carbon goal fits in quite nicely with that. The problem is that there are limited funds that all the SIDS are competing for (or at least those who are efficient enough to get projects designed and proposals put together) and Grenada's already got a proposal in queue! Not submitted by us, but by government. And not surprisingly, the first version of the Hotels SIDS proposal given to government to submit to SIDSDock in mid-July hasn't gone anywhere.

Is there enough money for the government and the private sector of one country to have their proposals financed? I don't know. Should a funding mechanism like this evolve into government and non-governmental streams? Probably.

In the meantime however, I took out the solar farm component of our project at the end of August because it was a) the most expensive part and b) required more negotiations with the local utility (I will blog about this another time). So the USD $2 million request was reduced to USD $500,000 and solar farm (Community energy) component that would have required Memorandums of Understanding and Agreements with the Government and GRENLEC were removed.

The project is now a 100% self contained project that doesn't require agreements, MOU's, partnerships or anything else that could hold things up. It's a simple project involving Energy Audits and Energy Conservation/Efficiency retrofits that could reduce electricity consumption by as much as half (OMG - that's a lot!).

There's an approximate deadline of 'September' to get that proposal officially submitted. I don't know if our proposal made it to Cabinet for review yesterday, but since the government decided to prorogue government yesterday - I doubt it. So it's pretty safe to assume the proposal won't be going anywhere this week. Next week maybe?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Carriacou Launches Project to Convert 40-60% Diesel Electricity to Renewable Wind Energy

ST. GEORGE’S, GRENADA Monday, September 10, 2012: In keeping with the pronouncement in the 2012 Budget, the Government of Grenada in partnership with the European Union and GRENLEC will launch the Carriacou Wind Energy Project. The Financing Agreement was approved in February 2012 at a cost of EUR 3.9 million with a EUR 2.5 million Grant from the European Union to the Government of Grenada and at least EUR 1.4 million counterpart funding from GRENLEC.

The project seeks to reduce reliance on imported fossil fuel for electricity generation. This is a momentous step towards stabilising electricity prices in Grenada and reducing our carbon footprint. Carriacou’s relative size in relation to the rest of the electricity grid in Grenada means that the effect on the overall grid will be small. Nonetheless, the project is important to the overarching strategy for renewable energy development in the State of Grenada.

This project will include a wind farm and energy storage system, with an intelligent control system. This configuration of state-of-the art technology will allow production of about 1-2 megawatts of wind energy or between 40-60 percent wind energy penetration in Carriacou, placing it among commercial hybrid systems delivering the highest penetrations of wind energy. Such systems integrate renewable energy technology with traditional fossil fuel generation. The Carriacou project is intended to reduce diesel consumption in Carriacou by 40-60 percent.

The Carriacou Wind Farm is the first of two that GRENLEC plans on constructing in Grenada, Carriacou and Petit Martinique. Significantly, the part-funding from the European Union, through the Government of Grenada, makes the project feasible for GRENLEC. The other major area of interest is geothermal energy, for which consultations with key stakeholders are ongoing, in addition to work on draft legislation to manage exploration of Grenada’s resources.

The launch will be comprised of a Signing Ceremony at the National Stadium on Tuesday 11th September at 11:00 a.m and a Sod Turning Ceremony at Top Hill, Carriacou on Wednesday 12th September commencing at 1:00 p.m. The events will be jointly hosted by representatives from the European Commission’s Regional Office, The Ministry of Finance, The Ministry of Carriacou and Petit Martinique Affairs and GRENLEC.

This pilot project is novel and will provide useful lessons as Grenada pursues it “GREENADA” vision and the targets in the National Energy Policy.

All members of the media are invitetd to the Signing Ceremony at the Grenada National Stadium tomorrow Tuesday 11th September at 11:00 a.m

By: Ministry of Finance and GRENLEC

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Posting Comments on this blog

I have been told that there are people who wish to post comments on this blog. The comment feature has been on it since I created the blog some years ago, but I haven't figured out how to make the placement more obvious. Usually, because comments aren't frequent, you can click "No comments" at the bottom of the post. I presume when comments are put up, the button will appear differently, but in the same place. Perhaps it'll say, "Add a comment"....not sure. I will ask someone who's more technically minding to help me make the feature more user friendly, but until then - post your comments!! Please note however, comments are moderated to ensure that nothing offensive or inappropriate is posted here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

BBC Fast:Track Highlights Grenada's Chelsea Flower Show Winners

Grenada is more than Sea, Sun and Sand....we have the Chelsea Champion Flowers too...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Patience, Patience

We've moved mountains since Grenada's hotels declared their zero carbon goals with the 2012 Earth Day Declaration. Since then, there's been a rigourous effort to:

1. Research the best way to achieve that goal
2. Consult with all the Hoteliers who will be impacted by the project
3. Determine needs (something the policy industry would call a 'needs assessment')
4. Determine the recpients willingness to invest themselves in the effort
5. Shortlist preferred techological solutions & identify costs
6. Consult with donors, and international agencies involved in combatting climate change as well as promoting development
7. Consult with stakeholders outside the immediate project group who may also be impacted by or interested in the project
8. Draft a project outline
9. Negotiate terms with the local utility
10. Negotiate terms with the local government
11. Draft another project outline (based on negotiation results)
12. Submit the proposal to the donor......

No wait!~ We can't submit the proposal to the donor directly, we have to submit to the government to obtain their approval and THEN they can submit to the donor.

In our case, as is often the case - when pursuing funding envelopes that are substantial in size (over say, $500,000 USD) the donors usually require the country government to indicate their support for the project. Makes sense on a diplomatic, economic, and practical front for the donors, but it sure presents a challenge at times 'on the ground'!


Because the one thing that policy and paper shufflers often fail to include in their systems development is a good look at local, practical, operating conditions. Most developing country governments suffering from tremendous capacity strain - as a few gifted individuals (who have not succumbed to brain drain - leaving for higher paid jobs elsewhere) carry more than their share of workload burden. The rest of the public service 'bulk' is at it is in most countries - costly deadweight.

The result?

Things move slowly. Sometimes slower than backwards it seems. The Government of India has some creative ways of addressing the problem of efficiency in a sprawling bureaucracy by embedding accountability measures at all levels. I haven't been on the ground there to see whether or not it works, but in our case - something like that would benefit us.

As we wait for the government machinery to re-start it's engines after 3.5 public holiday days in 2 weeks - I can't help but lament about the time lost while the government moves at its own speed exercising its own internal due diligence before the project I designed can 'officially' move forward to the donor.

It's not the fault of the individuals responsible for getting our proposals and requests through the government system. I know well enough from my own days working in the Prime Minister's Office that no ammount of desire or will can change some elements of how fast things move in government. But gosh....from a private sector point of view where needs are seen and attended to swiftly for the benefit of good business, it's hard to be patient and wait knowing what is at stake.

And so we nudge, and encourage, and try to get things moving along.......while I work hard in the background trying to keep my clients looking credible with stakeholders in countries that move quite a lot faster than the Caribbean.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kirani's Inspiration: 43.94

Kirani James, World Champion & Olympic Gold Medalist. He is not just an ambassador for Grenada for athletics, as the first Grenadian to win an olympic medal - he is a champion for rising above poverty.

*Please note, anyone viewing this posting prior to August 10th will have seen a quote attributed in error to Kirani James, as the words were spoken by Silver Medalist, Luguelin Santos.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Caribbean Development Fund

We had a pleasant surprise yesterday morning when my clients the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association got a call from the Ministry of Energy saying a delegation from the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) was in Grenada and they'd like to meet with us.

You know you're on the right track when the donors come to you!

After a very pleasant meeting, we parted anticipating a lot of future cooperation. The CDF is investing funds in Grenada through the Grenada Development Bank and when all the bureaucratic arrangements such as signatories are place - stakeholders like the GHTA and other SME's will be able to access grant/loan financing support for business development. Great!

They're interested in energy efficiency, energy conservation and renewable energy production so we're well positioned to make use of this financing mechanism. The ammount they're offering is small (in relation to the real expenses associated with EE,EC and RE) but since donors like to see counterpart financing I think our best move is to take a bit of funding from them, a bit from SIDSdock and a bit from other sources, like the PetroCaribe Investment Fund.

It's amazing though how long it takes to talk to stakeholders and design the project and then once that is done, the proposals can be developed so quickly! Of course, once the proposals are in - then comes the W-a-i-t-i-n-g period!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Psychology of Development

In the last seven days, three women have lost their lives at the hands of men they once shared intimacy with. Some people would say their lives were lost at the blade of a cutlass: I would say that is the instrument of the greater denger rooted in all or nothing thinking. The kind of thinking that leads to crimes of passion (or hienous stupidity, depending on how you want to percieve it).

Crime is not normally a subject anyone promoting Tourism would ever mention on the internet, but I am a supporter of sustainable development, so that means placing equal value on the ecconomy, society, and the environment. Right now, our society needs some urgent attention.

Before I start, it should be noted, that Grenada enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in the Western Hemisphere, and most of what I reflect upon in this editorial are the more sub-surface (incideous) intimate aspects of our society - and they are my opinions and they are very unlikely to affect a tourist's experience.

So here take on a TOUCHY subject!

My passion for Grenada is rooted in my belief that this little country, with it's 100,000 people and incredible natural resources has the potential to be a world leader. It has the potential to catapult into a post-industrial future, avoiding so many of the mistakes made by the industrial era of the 1900's. It has the potential to be a model for the world. That is what is at the heart of the projects I design - whether they be for renewable energy, marine conservation, organic agriculture, education, SME development, child's rights....

But Grenada has a development barrier - and it is a psychological one. Grenada is not alone, a lot of countries have the same problem (some of us might argue the whole world does). And for all the money and effort invested in projects, aid, investments, policies and regulations (worldwide) we've almost completely neglected the psychology of success. Perhaps that's why we as a planet have not yet achieved the results we desire.

As we watch the Olympics, we must appreciate that the people who "win" are the ones who can visualize themselves as winners before they compete, while they compete and of course after they win. The losers most often are held back by a shadow of personal doubt (or some element beyond their control). You have to believe it - to be it! And it is no less the case for a tiny nation trying to define it's future. If we want to be great, we have to see ourselves as great. If we want harmony and unity we have to value it, be comfortable it, and practice it daily.

It's ok to have moods - just not extremes. As the Dalai Lama once said in an interview when he was asked "Do you ever have a bad day?" he replied, "I am like the ocean. There are waves on the surface but I am calm underneath". How many of us can say that about ourselves? Certainly not the men who took the lives of women they once loved.

In a small island society, the way that we see ourselves goes beyond the individual because everyone is connected to everyone else (much like the cosmic island called earth). The individual is inextricably linked to the family, which is linked to the community, which is linked to the nation, which is linked to the region. Embedded in that inteconnectedness are 'family of origin' issues most people carry around even though few are even aware they are there. The things we learn as young people about communicating, solving problems, resolving conficts, and relating to our feelings. The challenge for Grenada is that the "family of origin" is not the nuclear western mother, father, child family - it is the entire society.

Are we taught to resolve conflicts rationally and fairly? Are we encouraged to share our thoughts and feelings with others? Are we encouraged to think for ourselves or follow in line even if it means denying our true selves? When we feel anger, frustration, pain, or dissapointment do we know how to express them, or do we wear a mask that hids our true emotions? Do we project realistic expectations on others? If the answer is "no" to these questions, then it should come as no surprise that these women lost their lives.

I am not a pyschologist but I do firmly believe that based on what my little island has taught me, we would be a whole lot better off if we had healthier relationship dynamics here.

So as I see it - that's a development priority - because without a healthy mindset we will not achieve our goals - assuming we even know what they are.

Monday, July 23, 2012

IRENA Renewable Readiness Assessment

I am posting this 'on the fly' before heading out to the second day of meetings with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). They are here conducting a consultation with local experts and key stakeholders (as I do not consider myself an energy expert!) to develop a renewable readiness assessment for Grenada. A local consultant has been hired to do the job, and between his effort and the representatives of IRENA that have travelled to Grenada for this consultation, I must report that I'm not only impressed by their work - I am delighted that such an important fledgling organization is getting off to such a great start!

Here's why:

Anyone that has worked in development or government or civil society can tell you that since "stakeholder consultation" became the popular thing to do, it wouldn't be hard to spend an entire career in meetings! Most of the time the results are limited to generating a report that ends up in a filing cabinet, or in some cases it will actually inform policy development (but that's rare).

The IRENA consultations are different however - they have already captured 'Action Items' that if acted upon will yeild measurable, immediate, tangible, and greatly needed results. I don't want to steal IRENA's thunder by publishing what we've come up with so far, but I am 100% certain that when the Renewable Readiness Assessment is released - it will be worth reading.

The project I am developing for the GHTA has already been reshaped by the collective wisdom of the people in the room - and a moment of inspiration on behalf of the Non-State Actors panel has also been chewed on by participants and may well become a project I can develop for them.

More to come!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Things are beginning to move in an encouraging direction. Contact has been made with some really big Foundations and international financial institutions who are interested in the direction we are heading in. So far, what I am finding most fascinating is how for the second time (the last time being my work facilitating the creation of the Four Seasons Resort Eco-Resort plan in Grenada) I am seeing how important it is to have someone playing the role I am playing now to bring the technocrats together with the business minds and the people decisions affect.

What it boils down to is (needing) a relatively neutral third party who works with all the stakeholders guided by a very simple mandate:


It takes a lot of listening, and a very interdisciplinary intellectual foundation to be able to hear widely varied viewpoints (technical, emotional, financial) and find the win-zone among them. I have not spent enough time thinking about my role in all of this to the point where I've developed a label for it. Maybe some of my readers have some thoughts about it?


I met with the local utility (and parent company) executives this week and began negotiating our renewable energy plans with them directly. The meetings revealed a few things:

1. There are an enormous amount of technical considerations that have to be worked into the project design not to mention negotiating agreement upon. This is going to slow down the grant procurement process for renewables a bit - but not terminally so.
2. We're at the mercy of Grenlec because of the monopoly law, and their investments in renewable energy are going to deepen that monopoly. They provide good service and they are committed to a 100% renewable future for Grenada - that's not the problem. The problem is how difficult it is to negotiate with a party that really holds all the power. We didn't get anywhere on negotiating better prices but we did open discussion about a 1.5-2 MW solar/wind farm. We want to own the solars, but they want to give us a 5 year term for it, after which they would own the solars. On matters like that - what choice do we have without legislated change?
3. The company refreshingly interested in renewable energy - and that's a good thing.
4. I will need to develop the energy audit and retrofit project component as soon as possible because the energy generation component is going to take awhile.

There was also some discussion about the utility's investment in geothermal energy.

Ohhhh my wheels are spinning with ideas!

Since our meeting I have been formulating ideas about setting up a community fund that could invest in the geothermal plant so that revenues stemming from it could be invested back into the country's development. GRENLEC would rather pay back into the community than to a bank or global investor - and we'd naturally prefer it too! The thought really excites me.

What if I could raise the money locally and have those community partners invest in the drilling exploration for the geothermal plant? It comes with risks, but the technocrats I have spoken to seem to be very confident about it, citing the presence of our volcano's Kick 'em Jenny and Kick 'em Jack and the similar geological features in Dominica have yielded good results (GRENELC is also in this country).

As business models go - many governments around the world privatized their utilities and by doing so it may have improved on the core efficiencies of the companies, but it disconnected the end-user from the benefits derived from the utilities profits. What if that bridge could be crossed again so that the venture capital used to develop a new (renewable) energy resource didn't come from the global marketplace (there-by exposing Grenada to capital flight later on) but from local sources instead? It would be so much better for all involved......

Grenada is also a country that has oil - could we make a case to one of the climate change funding mechanisms to pay Grenada to leave the oil the ground where it belongs if we successfully develop geothermal energy???? THAT would be revolutionary! I know pundits would cringe at the thought of giving up a license to print money......but it brings me to an old Cree proverb...

"After the last tree has been cut and the last fish has been caught - only then will you realize that money cannot be eaten".

But then as life always finds ways to twist the best common sense into something more complicated I realize that while I possess this kind of thinking on the one hand I also realize that I can do this - I can find ways to make this happen (or a version of it anyway) but I need more financial resources to back up my we're back to money again! **sigh**

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Big Reveal: Zero Carbon Hotel Project

The project has been designed, Members have been consulted and have given their approval, and it is now ready to reveal! The project outline looks really simple, but it actually responds to many competing needs and a very complicated local environment. Ultimately after consulting with stakeholders and researching the issues, it became clear that the only way Zero Carbon Hotel project would get off the ground was if it was designed as a "win-win" for all stakeholders involved. It didnt make any sense to design something that would result in financial losses for the local utility (we're held in a monopoly law). It made sense to align the project with the governments renewable ambitions, and to ensure that whatever was designed provided the greatly needed financial relief required by the hotel sector at this time. Since Grenada would be remiss to stop its green development at the zero carbon goal, the project has also been designed to expand the scope of sustainability through education and further project development/grants.

One thing that is quite unique to this project is that it is not just a renewable energy project - is an economic recovery plan. Eliminating the electricity bill for hotels will mean the difference between open and closed for many of them - and that means jobs and local spending that supports a staggering economy.

Sustainability is not just about environmental survival - in our case, it is our economic survival too.

The outline of the project I've concieved is as follows:

Grenada's Zero Carbon Hotel Project

Component One:

- Conduct detailed energy audits on properties. These audits will provide detailed information on where energy is used, where core inefficiencies are, as well as recommending changes to be made and the time it would take for those changes to pay for themselves in cost savings.
- Implement Retrofits. This would involve making the recommended changes outlined in the energy audits. It is expected that this will reduce electricity consumption by as much as 50%. Retrofits can be implemented through purchasing and/or project agreements with bilaterial supporters/corporate sponsors.
- Environmental education for property owners/managers to prepare for sustainability upgrades and to ensure Grenada meets marketplace demands for a 'Green' destination.

Component Two:

- Procure high density solar PV panels (enough to generate significant surplus)
- Install on government land donated/leased by the Government.
- Arrange maintenance agreement with local utility
- first draw of renewable energy produced goes to Hotels

Component Three:

- Portion of surplus given to local utility to mitigate losses arising from net-metering arrangement
- portion of surplus sold to local utility and re-invested in further 'greening' activities as a tourist destination and marketing of the sector
- Case study development

This basic outline has been shared locally with the Members of the Hotel and Tourism Association, the Government and the Opposition (it's an election year in Grenada).

Now all we have to do is come to an agreement with the local utility to raise money for this project and to implement it - since component One is the only element of the project that can be implemented without permission from the local utility and possibly even some special amendments to the law.

The trisk is - is offering free surplus energy enough of an incentive for the local utility to support this project? So far, negotiations have been luke-warm, and the head of the company in Miami is meeting with us on Wednesday this week.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Quiet = Busy

It's been about two weeks since my last post. However, while it may appear quiet on the internet - it's been busy on the outernet! The economic crisis is hitting the hotels hard, and this energy campaign is becoming more and more - a campaign for survival. We are among the top ten most unfortunate nations paying the highest electricity rates in the world and that's hard to keep up when flights are cutting back, occupancy rates are low and interest rates are high. There's been a flurry of meetings with the Government and external stakeholders as the GHTA negotiates a roadmap for the future.

Meanwhile, the individual stakeholder meetings continue. I am in the midst of back-to-back meetings with the individual member hotels in the GHTA to discuss our project plans. The importance of doing this is because effective project design requires complete stakeholder buy-in. To prepare a proposal I need to know how much energy we use, how invested the Members really are, whether they are willing (or able) to put up a share of the cost themselves, and whether they would be open to some intrusive, but extremely valuable project activities such as energy audits.

So far, I haven't encountered an ounce of hesitation.

Friday, June 22, 2012


In development parlance, there’s a term that rises up again and again like the air that carries the wings of a bird around. The trouble is - the words have become more of a ‘compliance’ activity among project planners and donors - rather than something that is valued and understood as a critical element of project development. Have you guessed what the words are yet?

“Stakeholder Consultation”

I can’t say that I don’t often think I have better ideas than the people around me (let’s face it, most people, deep down inside think they’re right about whatever they think; after all the basis of opinions is belief in their righteousness). However, even when I believe I am on the right track, experience has taught me that if my ideas are going to float I’d better check, check and double check that others agree with me unless whatever I am planning to do is a solo operation.

So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me that after only a few meetings scheduled with Grenada Hoteliers, I’m changing my project plans. I had incorrectly assumed that if over 90% of Grenada’s hotel stock had been rebuilt since Hurricane Ivan, the hotels would have already done a lot of energy saving changes to their properties. However, through my individual consultations I have learned that energy audits conducted on three Grenada properties through a project coordinated by the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) revealed that energy saving retrofits could reduce energy consumption by as much as 50%!

What’s more surprising is that the energy audit providing this revelation come from one of two Green Globe certified resorts in Grenada, so you can imagine how much energy could be saved on properties that have not made similar attempts to ‘green’ their operations!

Another interesting thing that has arisen is the broad spectrum of views on the issue. One hotelier was emphatically saying “I am ready to implement all of the recommendations [of the energy audit], we just have to raise the capital” while another hotelier remarked, “we can’t do much to reduce what you consume now can we? I think getting solar panels is the way to go”.

Looks to me like we’ve got to do both.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Met with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)

Yesterday, I met with Mr. Alejandro Tapia, the Regional Programme Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). He was an amazing fellow, with good energy and a lot of enthusiasm. Originally from Bolivia, Mr. Tapia is a global citzen, having lived and worked in many parts of the world and worked for many institutions including the World Bank. I joked with him that his job now was a karmic pay-off for high carbon footprint for his life so far! We had a lot of jokes and a lot of laughs and that makes me very excited about what's ahead.

Along with Mr. Alejandro, was Grenada's local consultant, a man named Mr. Telesford. I don't know much about this man yet, but I think we will be well aquainted in a few weeks time!

The International Renewable Energy Agency is conducting a renewable energy assessment of Grenada and Peru (pilots). These assessments will identify what forms of renewables would best suit Grenada and well as generating a roadmap for renewable energy conversion. They were organizing individual meetings with stakeholder groups in advance of a larger workshop. I was nominated by the Non-State Actors Panel to participate.

The workshop is scheduled for July 23rd and may be anywhere from 1 to 3 days long. I suggested that if we had such a meeting it would be good to book a venue that could provide catering on real dishes instead of disposable meal containers. It would seem a shame to be generating a bunch of garbage at a meeting designed to evaluate our readiness to reduce our carbon footprint! :o)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Demand for the Zero Carbon Future Grows

I got a call this weekend from one of Grenada’s largest companies. They are feeling the squeeze of the high electricity costs, and are seeking a cost effective renewable solution. They want “in” on the GHTA campaign.

It comes as no surprise that in a nation with one of the highest electricity rates in the world, other major players want to get involved in the GHTA project. As a sustainable development specialist; this is an ideal situation (and one I could barely imagine 20 years ago!). However, even though I want to run with the excitement and advise the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association to open their arms and let anyone join in: Doing so may not be as good of an idea as it seems on the surface.

Question: If we want a zero carbon future, why not have anyone and everyone possible join in the campaign???

Answer: This campaign needs phasing –there are so many logistical hurdles to overcome, if we want a sustainable and eventually national solution we need to be strategic about it. In Phase One, it’s best to stay focused, solve the problems that need solving and branch out from there in Phase Two.

One thing needs to be clear: The GHTA campaign is the beginning of a National energy transformation. Not because my clients demand it, but because the rest of Grenada does. Regardless of what the government and GRENLEC want – once the private sector and the people of Grenada start to sing with one voice – it must be listened to.
There are limited Grant funds available – so those grant funds need to be used in a way that opens doors to a national transformation. Grant funds also need to be applied within the context of an energy monopoly that necessitates GRENLEC’s cooperation. Also, since history has shown again and again that technology transfer from wealthy countries to developing nations are rife with challenges – the GHTA project can provide the learning ground to ensure that Grenada’s energy renaissance will be a sustainable one. GRENLEC is also looking at renewable investments, and their expertise and research cannot be underestimated.

Hopefully, if we approach this right – we can work with GRENLEC as partners, rather than adversaries by keeping our eye on a win-zone that is appealing to everyone. Not just one side or the other.

The other reason for keeping it simple is because the GHTA project must consider much more than installing panels on the roofs of hotels. The project needs to address issues like who will fix, install and decommission the technology, what would we do with the e-waste (decommissioned panels at a later date), which technologies are the best priced and most efficient, what are the best back-up systems and what does GRENLEC need to ensure that our investments feed efficiently into the grid. These issues and more have to be resolved and they have to be resolved with a very small pot of money (to start with). This project development is being done solely through Member financial contributions and if we wanted to go bigger we’d need donor support and that would slow the whole thing down as we waited to obtain grants to obtain more grants. No thanks – we want results now.

What is great about other members of the Private Sector expressing so much support for the GHTA campaign is there is power in numbers. When we need negotiating strength we have it. It means that our political leaders will have to recognize that the Nation is ready for sustainable development, and it also means that as the opportunity landscape for national transformation presents itself – it will be a quick and welcome transition!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Drafting the Roadmap Has Begun

Grenada is a phenomenally beautiful place to visit, and because of this most people in Grenada are accustomed to receiving visitors. In our household, we currently have our 5th international visitor in our home in the last 30 days, with two more expected before the middle of July! There's a reason why everyone wants to visit - Grenada is beautiful and the beaches (and diving!) are the best!

While playing host to these visitors, the drafting of the GHTA Zero Carbon roadmap has begun. Interviews with the individual members of the Hotel Cluster have been booked to obtain property specific data needed for proposal writing and at least the first three sections of the roadmap have been drafted already. The Roadmap will feature background and contextual information, a collection of information gathered, and a series of recommended actions to assist the Hotel Cluster to reach the Zero Carbon Goal.

There is no 'scheduled' publication date at this time, but it will be available once the data and stakeholder consultant is sufficiently completed to release it.

It is worthy to note that the GHTA is financing the production of this roadmap without external financial assistance.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Roadmap Taking Shape

The roadmap for Grenada's Hotels achieving their energy goals is finally taking shape. There is an incredible ammount of footwork to do to get there, but at least it's possible to see what needs to be done to get there now. Now that the roadmap outline is taking shape, I will be presenting my ideas to the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association President. From there, I will have to work on gathering a lot of background data such as the surface area of the roofs so we can calculate how many PV's we can install, how much electricity we can produce, and of course - what it will cost.

So far, it doesn't look like Grants are going to provide enough money to install systems so I'm going to have to work with my national colleagues to find a really favourable financing arrangement - such as a revolving fund. Revolving funds are often used to stimulate private sector development by offering loans at favourable interest rates and with favourable terms that cannot be obtained with traditional commercial financing.

Perhaps with a combination of good commerical financing, grant funds and some donated energy saving hardware (such as LED lights) we can make a dent in our Carbon Footprint! The trick is working out the math:

Can we raise enough money to generate a surplus of electricty using PV's?

If the outline I present to the Chair is approved - next week will be a boring week of obtaining data. Every good job has it's share of grunt work!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

IMF Echoes the GHTA's Concerns about Energy Costs

Statement by the IMF Mission to Grenada

[IMF] Press Release No. 12/198
May 30, 2012

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by Ms. Nita Thacker visited Grenada during May 7–17 for the 2012 Article IV consultation. This consultation is a bilateral discussion which the IMF typically has with its members, once a year. During this Consultation, a staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. The mission met with Finance Minister Nazim Burke, Permanent Secretary Timothy Antoine, other senior government officials, the opposition leader and members of his team, representatives of the business and financial sectors, and labor unions. At the end of the mission, Ms. Thacker issued the following statement:

“Following two years of consecutive decline, there are signs that a fragile recovery may be underway. Real GDP grew by 1.1 percent in 2011 and is expected to reach 1½ percent in 2012, on the back of a continued growth in agriculture and a gradual recovery in tourism stay-over arrivals. Inflation is expected to stay broadly stable at about 3 percent in 2012. However, the fiscal situation deteriorated in 2011, in part, reflecting revenue shortfalls due to the extension of various temporary tax exemptions. Private sector credit growth remains sluggish as banks continue to remain cautious and tighten lending standards given the increase of nonperforming loans. The current account deficit is expected to remain around 25 percent of GDP, reflecting high food and fuel prices. Looking ahead, significant downside risks remain. These include the high public sector debt level and budget financing constraints, high current account deficits and net external liabilities, and financial sector vulnerabilities, including potential spillovers from the region.

“Discussions focused on three policy areas: (i) restoring sustained growth and generating employment; (ii) resuming fiscal consolidation to put debt on a firm downward trajectory and to build a growth-oriented budget; and (iii) strengthening the financial sector. Ambitious reforms in these areas are essential to create jobs, boost medium term growth, and reduce poverty.

“Grenada faces a sizeable competitiveness gap. During the past years, increases in production costs—including from higher energy costs and wages, and lower productivity—have put downward pressure on profit margins and stifled investment. Achieving higher growth and sustained employment generation will therefore require the steadfast implementation of key structural reforms. Some measures for improving the business climate, including implementation of ASYCUDA World, have been implemented. Other key reforms that need to be implemented include wage discipline to reflect productivity combined with efforts to enhance labor skills, improving flexibility of labor and product markets, facilitating access to credit, fostering small enterprise development, addressing high energy costs by using alternative sources, better exploiting the linkages between the agricultural and tourism sectors, and more effective monitoring and implementation of efficiency-enhancing reforms at state-owned enterprises.

“On the fiscal front, the high public sector debt combined with budgetary rigidities and limited sources of financing are key challenges and underscore the urgent need for more lasting and significant fiscal consolidation. The authorities are committed to generating primary surpluses of at least 1½-2 percent of GDP over the medium term to put debt on a sustained downward trajectory and achieve debt sustainability through a combination of revenue and expenditure measures. Addressing existing budgetary rigidities on current spending, in particular with respect to the high wage bill, will strengthen the budget’s pro-growth orientation and create space for capital expenditure. On the revenue side, reducing and streamlining tax incentives and exemptions could generate fiscal space for much-needed investments in infrastructure and other development priorities to ensure sustained growth and create buffers against future shocks.

“Ongoing efforts to strengthen the financial sector could benefit from further improvements in monitoring and forceful action to address weakening of credit portfolios, low profitability, and the rising level of nonperforming loans, both at banks and credit unions. Potential spillovers from regional financial markets should continue to be monitored.

“Upon its return to Washington, the mission will prepare a report, to be discussed by the IMF's Executive Board, tentatively scheduled for July 2012. The mission thanks the authorities for their warm hospitality, candid discussions, and close cooperation during its stay in Grenada. The mission also thanks all other stakeholders for taking the time to discuss various issues.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Grantwriting Grind

When I work with clients who want me to develop project proposals for them, I often encounter an expectation that I will just fill in a form, make a budget and funding will follow. Thankfully Grenada’s Hotel and Tourism Association knows better - because the project planning process to reach a zero carbon and energy liberalization goal is pretty involved!

As it is I am splitting hairs over it already. It seems like such a simple goal, but it’s a logistical nightmare. We have to consider timing – there is a need to make changes now – not years from now. So this is something I have to factor into everything. Then, the harsh reality is that none of the funding pools are sufficient to make a dent in converting to renewable technology. Either the pots of money are too small, or the technology is too dear. Private sector funding and fast-track funding is an option, but the best place to get access to that would be at a conference like the Rio +20 but we don’t even know who Grenada’s delegation members are, let alone whether they’d be any good at attracting corporate or bilateral sponsors.

As I keep saying though – where there’s a will, there’s a way – and I will find it.
Looking at various scenarios to pursue is a start. Retrofitting properties is a nice idea, but it’s not possible to just develop an open ended proposal for a pot of money to buy products for retrofitting. Energy audits must be done, cost comparisons must be made and if the product orders are big enough, tender dossiers must be prepared.

For example, LED lighting can reduce carbon emissions and electricity costs significantly. Using a typical small grants scheme as an example; I can only raise enough money to get about 1500 bulbs to share among 20 properties (even with the properties putting in 30%) unless we are willing to wait years and years for them by going for larger long term grants. Small grants usually take 1.5 years to get, while larger ones usually take 2.5 years and longer. We don’t have that kind of time.

Solar panels are a great solution, but the funding out there would only convert about 3 properties, leaving everyone else out, and even if I could raise all the money needed there are issues with maintaining the stability of the grid. Commercial financing for solar panels are out because the local utility forces properties to sell 100% of their renewable energy to the utility and then the utility sells it back with an almost 200% mark up.

The national conversion seems to be the most logistically sound path to follow (and most results oriented) since the entire country’s peak energy draw is only about 30Mw. But this will not be a quick fix because national renewable energy conversion should not be done with a monopoly arrangement, which means the monopoly needs to be broken first. In the meantime, the hotels are being strangled by one of the highest electricity rates in the world. The hotels have been trying to get the utility to cut rates for a long time now and the utility won’t budge.
I’ve got to develop a more effective lobby on that front, for sure.

So, I sit at the ‘drawing board’ working out scenarios, phases, matching up funding sources to possible activities all the while knowing the clock is ticking........tomorrow I have meetings scheduled with what I will call high value “Assets” who may be able to help me see the forest for the trees!
At least I have been doing this long enough to know that I usually feel the most lost right before I come up with my brightest ideas.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Civil Society to Guide Development in Grenada?

In an interesting turn of events yesterday; participants of the Non-State Actors Panel were informed that the Alternative Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy has been very warmly received by the European Union Delegation in the Barbados, and with some extra time and effort invested – it could become the “official” country PRSP! According to the EU, what the Non-State Actors have done is the first of its kind in the Region, and the PRSP that was written for the Government was deemed ‘not-acceptable’ by the EU leaving the Civil Society document as the only functional development strategy for the nation at this time.
This is a really commendable development for Grenada, and an incredible opportunity to transform Grenada’s future. Ample praise and appreciation is due to the people who invested their time to consult with stakeholders and prepare the document – particularly since most of the document was prepared with volunteer resources (I will rant about the inequities of consultant contracts another day) by people who should have been paid for their work. But I know that like me – those of us who are really committed to a sustainable future for our children don’t do this work for the money so the work will get done anyway.
If this PRSP is ‘mainstreamed’ it could be used as a benchmarking tool for EU Budget Support and for this fact alone – the prospect is thoroughly thrilling! The 10th EDF budget support is worth nearly €10 million Euros. Imagine if it was spent wisely!?

For generations the world over, development strategies have been defined by powerful elite and technocrats, and that neglected community oriented priorities, indigenous knowledge and many practical considerations. The cornerstone of sustainable development is local ownership – and that means ownership at the community level – not just among the elites. Put in simple terms – imagine any team oriented sport where the players on the team are all trying to score in different nets. Practically speaking, it means that if sustainable development is to be achieved, all the players must know what the win-zone looks like and they must have a desire or at least an interest in reaching it. Without that kind of buy –in, it means people are struck with the antiquated trickle-down effect, which yields muted results at best.

So for these reasons Grenada is poised to mature as a nation in a very important way, and quite ironically the global economic slowdown has put development pressures on the private sector (such as electricity prices) that have moved all the non-state actors closer together in terms of how they perceive the win-zone.
Now it is up to those of us who are good at communications and strategic planning to enable this momentous opportunity! As one local activist said yesterday, ‘It is time to inspire’ [people]. Development from the bottom up, that is informed by sound fiscal policy and technocratic experience is in my view, the best and most durable approach for getting on (and staying on) a sustainable development path that respects the economy, society and the environment.

As far as the Hotel and Tourism Association and my company are concerned, our contribution to this will be our efforts to bring some energy justice to Grenada through our lobby for price reductions, energy liberalization and ultimately the conversion to renewable energy. There is no way we can consider a sustainable future for this nation if our energy production leaves us import dependant in an unstable global environment – and there is no way we can be a sustainable nation if households earning $800 XCD a month (yes, that’s a full time wage for some people here!) have to pay $20 XCD a month for every fan they use to keep the mosquitoes and heat away from them at night.
So we will be contributing to the PRSP process by defining our energy goals that will very likely become part of the Strategy’s action plan. I am quite confident that the GHTA’s plans will be adopted by the Non-State Actors Advisory Panel and eventually mainstreamed as a national development priority.
How amazing is that!!????

Maybe just maybe, I will be able to look into my daughters eyes when she grows up and tell her ‘I did all I could to preserve your future and it made a difference’. I shudder to even think what kind of a world she will inherit if we fail.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The second day of meetings with the Non-State Actors Advisory Panel is about to begin. Yesterday, was a full day dedicated to presentations and discussion around thematic areas such as corporate social responsibility, investment, ICT4D and of course, energy.

Today, the group will be working together to provide input into project ideas for an action plan that will supplement the The Alternative Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy for Grenada. This strategy is important, because the current development paradigm (at the international financial institutions, at least) places a great deal of emphasis on Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). These are supposed to be 'home-grown' strategies developed by countries that outline the Nations own strategic development plans. The Non-State Actors Advsiory Panel is financially supported by the 10th European Development Fund (10th EDF) and it is a mandated requirement for the 10th EDF Budget Support (The European Union is now providing Official Development Assistance through budget support - but that's a whole other posting to explain!). The emphasis on local ownership is in part, a corrective measure from the era of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) of the 1980's and early 1990's that 'un-developed' a lot of countries due to the high level of outside influence on country development strategies. SAPs were focused on creating a favourable global investment climate that included devaluing local currencies to attract foreign investment, and cutting social spending. It was an appauling experiment in development that came with a high price tag for people and the environment.

So now, we have PRSP's serving as our global development rennaisance. Is it working? In Grenada's case, the country's official PRSP has not been published, so it's hard to tell. But if the Alternative PRSP developed by the Non-State Actors Panel gets any traction, it could be quite successful here. The Strategy applies critical development theory to practical local circumstances, and that is a good foundation for developing a practical action plan. It also has created a participatory forum for non-state actors to actively participate in development planning.

In yesterday's meeting, the most exciting contribution came from Dennis Noel, who owns a company called "Noelville" which makes a hugely successful pain relief product called "nutmed" produced with nutmeg oil. His proposal to the group was for us to focus on developing Grenada's herbal products and emphasize pharmaceudical research and development that would enable us to develop pharma products in Grenada for export to the world market. That's the kind of practical, forward thinking approach that can transform the nation if we all get behind it!

I explained the Grenada Hotel and Tourism's 'Earth Day Declaration' to the group; so that they might be informed of what private sector stakeholders are planning to do with respect to renewable energy. It wasn't clear whether the facilitator understood that our intention was to garner their endorsement, rather than asking them to take up our agenda. Needless to say that can be cleared up today.

I am quite proud of the fact that Grenada's private sector as a whole is ready to embrace sustainability and I think it is really important to blow that trumpet as often as possible, because if ALL of civil society can get behind a vision and own it, Grenada's development future is certain to be more prosperous and sustainable.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ETHICAL IDEAS: Where There's A Will - There's A Way

ETHICAL IDEAS: Where There's A Will - There's A Way

Where There's A Will - There's A Way

The Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association Members (GHTA) were treated to a presentation by Ethical Ideas (me!), titled "Grenada's Sustainable Tourism Future" last evening at the True Blue Bay Resort. The presentation outlined what we have done to-date, such as defining, voting upon and circulating the GHTA Earth Day Declaration. The presentation also profiled some of the things we are learning such as:

Converting to renewable (solar) energy isn't as easy as it sounds.....

The cost of setting up individual solar systems is one problem - because the electricity rates offered by the local utility GRENLEC are so low, commercial financing options are not viable. Grant funds are available but they take a long time to obtain and will not be sufficient to cover individual properties if the grants are obtained with a 'small project' fund. There is also the challenge of maintaining grid stability, which apparently could be affected if a bunch of properties started generating large quantities of solar power. It's starting to look like we'll need a feasibility study if we have systems put on hotel roof's, and it's not even clear if is this is the right way to go yet.

It may be wiser to look at National renewable solutions instead.......

This isn't set in stone of course, but it does look like the more practical route would be to convert ALL OF GRENADA to renewable energy. I've been told by a very reliable expert that the most cost-effective option for national conversion would be to aim for 70% renewable with a diesel back-up system. There's technical reasons for this (That are beyond my understanding!) that are apparently very costly to solve if we want to go 100% solar. Based on expert input, a national conversion would cost about $90 million USD! That's a lot of money!!! But...

Where there's a will, there's a way!

So, the Members have been given a briefing on where we're at, what I plan to do to keep the ball rolling in the right direction and we press onwards!!! The Grenlec Marketing Manager was present at the Members Meeting yesterday and the Members sure gave her a hard time, expressing frustration at the high electricity prices and arguing that it is in no-one's interest to be one of the most expensive countries in the world for electricity prices. I looked up figures for that argument today and found that indeed - Grenada is among the top 10 countries in the world for high electricity prices. The only country I could find with higher electricity rates was Tonga.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Background for Grenada's Hotels Zero Carbon & Energy Liberalization Campaign

It's an ambition that is being pursued against the backdrop of a business community that has encountered more than its fair share of challenges in recent years. Eight years ago, over 90% of Grenada's homes and hotels (buildings of all types, really) were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan. Imagine a small island state where over 90% of the buildings have literally been stripped to their foundations! The reconstruction process did provide jobs for the local populace, but the owners and operators of the hotels lost a lot of money while their properties were out of business as they rebuilt.

Grenadian business people are resilient, and despite their losses, many used the devastation as an opportunity to upgrade their properties, including environmental retrofits (which will be profiled on this blog later). But then, just as the hotels climbed out of rebuilding after the hurricane, the global economic recession hit and pummelled tourism and Grenada's economy. In 2009 Grenada economy contracted by nearly 8% and it hasn't grown above 1.4% since.

Seems like an usual time for hotels to be worrying about the environment doesn't it?

Well according to the President of the Board of Directors for Grenada's Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA), Grenada's hotels endure more than hurricanes and recessions - they also endure the world's highest energy prices (Grenada being among the top ten). Renewable energy provides the opportunity to reduce those costs, as well as to revitalize the nation's tourism sector as it responds to the growing environmental conscience of their customers.

So, with the help of Ethical Ideas, the GHTA is pursing a zero carbon future and energy liberalization. We have a lot of supporters already and I am very confident we will achieve the goal. Watch this space as I post updates on what we're doing and how we're progressing!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Zero Carbon Future for Grenada Hotels

April 27, 2012- Grenada Hotels Declare Energy Ambitions
St. George’s, Grenada – Russ Fielden, President of the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association (GHTA) announced at the Sustainable Development Council meeting today that the business association will be pursuing a Carbon Free future and energy cost reductions for the sector. The Sustainable Development Council met to discuss Grenada’s prospects in the global Carbon Trading Market. The GHTA ambitions, dubbed by the GHTA as the ‘2012 Earth Day Declaration’ include a desire for Grenada Hotels: - To be the first zero carbon hotel sector in the Caribbean, if not the world. - Safeguard Grenada’s global competitiveness through an immediate cost reprieve on electricity prices until renewable conversion takes place - To support the development of the Eastern Caribbean Electricity Regulatory Agency (ECERA) by OECS Governments and the World Bank According to Mr. Fielden, Grenada’s electricity prices are among the highest in the world and this is making Grenada’s business environment very uncompetitive in an already limping global economy. As the GHTA sees it, failing to realize a cost reduction in electricity prices will spell disaster for Grenada’s already foundering economy. Renewable energy is one of the most cost-effective ways of reducing energy costs. The business association has come out strongly in support of liberalizing Grenada’s energy sector and for having an energy infrastructure that is 100% carbon free. This is because Grenada’s current electricity pricing means that a hotel must, by law, sell 100% of the energy their solar systems might produce and then GRENLEC will sell it back to them at nearly three times the cost. The GHTA acknowledges that GRENLEC clearly cannot manage an electrical grid if too many people are operating different electricity producing systems that feed into the grid, but the Association is confident and determined to see a hotel sector that is carbon free. The GHTA’s has retained Ethical Ideas Consulting Services to negotiate on their behalf to obtain grants, concessional loans, and negotiate agreements with other stakeholders. You can contact Jennifer Alexis through the GHTA office at 444-1353 or by emailing Jennifer Alexis at