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.