Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sustainability: Our Competitive Advantage

It's a bitter sweet victory to feel like I'm within a hair's breath of achieving something I've been working towards for three decades: We're on the doorstep of reaching the critical mass necessary for a cathartic change in a society; and it's happening right here in Grenada, right now.

Sustainability may become our economic driver.

Leaders of Grenada's largest industry, the biggest economic contributors to the island are poised on the precipice of a decision about whether or not to embrace 'sustainability' as the cornerstone that defines who we are, what we offer to the world, and how we want to head into the future. Ironically, what Grenada decides to do at this change point in it's history could have a global impact - because what happens here can and does happen everywhere. The only real difference is that we're 100,000 people on a rock in the middle of nowhere so every little thing we do is visible and counts. And what sets us apart is that we've got the critical mass ready to embrace it.

Is a post-industrial sustainable society possible?

One thing I'm convinced of is that if it is, it's got to be led by the private sector. Without wanting to offend my public service colleagues around the world; the difference between the private sector and the public sector is an important once. The public sector tends to focus on process and the private sector tends to focus on results.

We need results and we need them fast.

Because we are small we can rise fast. But because we are small, we can fall fast too.

We're going to rise. And 20 years from now, we'll be the envy of the world over.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Fixer

After suffering a incredibly demanding production schedule while the crew of the hit TV series "Survivorman" were here; a beloved member of my family passed away. As a result, my blog slowed down and my work piled up!

Now that I am back in the saddle, I've got lots of positive things to talk about.

The production of 2 episodes of hit Discovery Channel series, "Survivorman" was very successful! One episode was filmed on an uninhabited island found off the south coast of Carriacou. Can't find it on a map? - don't be surprised - it's really in the middle of nowhere! The island, perched within the archipelago known as the 'Grenadines' is happily one of the few places left on earth that is still teeming with wildlife. There's an abundance of shore birds, turtles, fish and cactus there making the island an incredibly interesting place to visit. A Galapagos in the Caribbean! It's not easy to access however, with a rocky shoreline that prohibits access from most boast seaworthy enough to battle the big waves to get there. The second episode was filmed at the top of Mt. St. Catherine's and an old estate called Tufton Hall. The volcanic mountain may not have jaguars and other scary things on it, but that's part of what makes is so great - a rain forest accessible to those of us with the stamina to climb high heights without being afraid of what we'll encounter when we get there. Even though I was up at the Mt. Edgecombe Estate with the production crew; I don't know much about what's in the episodes the star, Les Stroud filmed - because unlike most reality TV shows - he actually does what he says he's doing. It's not staged - so the only people who know what's going to be in the show before it airs, are the people who edit the footage he took while he was alone in the wilderness. The crew I was with are there to get landscape shots that are edited into Les' footage. Apparently in show biz, it's called "B-Roll". :oP

Les Stroud, who is not just a survivalist and reality TV star - was captured by Grenada as he wrote the following words on his Facebook page:

Les Stroud: “Hey all – whew!!! What a whirlwind tour of Grenada! I am finally back home and getting only a quick rest before I head out to film more Survivorman. Up next?? – Survivorman and Son! ......I have to bring you on board with something: and that is that Grenada is a place you MUST visit. It is the Caribbean’s best kept secret. An unbelievably beautiful place with a lot to offer; world class diving with unique coral reef we had not seen anywhere else, world class sailing, and my favorite – an interior mountainous cloud forest that has breathtaking views of the dark green jungle. I spent my time surviving in an area called Tufton Hall – and it was outstanding. Grand Etang is not to be missed either. As well I survived on a private island off the coast a few hours – simply beautiful. My friends at the True Blue Bay Resort will set you up well for all your adventures and I sincerely hope to go back there with some down time to just enjoy what is now one of my most favorite tropical destinations. Make sure you eat at The Aquarium or Savvy’s while you are there! You guys know I would [not] steer you wrong and lead you somewhere that wasn't amazing – and Grenada – still struggling after Hurricane Ivan can use your visit to get it going again – the people are wonderful and the island is not to be missed. If I could I would get UNESCO to designate it a world heritage site tomorrow!! But for now – I just want to sit on my dock, crack open a Guinness and watch my Muskokan sunset while I think about what it is going to be like to have to survive with my son in two weeks……to be continued….L”

Now that's what I call a rave review!

....but my work here is not yet done. Not while our unemployment rate is over 30% poverty rate near 50% and our precious environment hanging the balance. My next project is to assist the Grenada Chocolate Factory. I've volunteered my time to help them develop a funding proposal that will facilitate "Change Management" (among other things) to ensure that this wonderful thing Mott Green created does not die with him. For more about Mott Green and the Grenada Chocolate Factory, see my posts for May and June 2013.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Surviving "Survivorman" :o)

After publishing the Economic Recovery Plan for Grenada's Hotel Sector, I felt compelled to offer more than a paper with a to-do list for the sector's survival - so I sought to solve the one of three of the #1 problems identified in my report: Marketing.

Grenada's got a GREAT tourism product, but not enough resources to bring that product to 'market'. How many people know how special Grenada is? That our underwater park was listed as one of the wonders of the world, alongside Victoria Falls and so on? Or that National Geographic rated Grenada as one of the top ten places in the world to visit?

Answer: Not enough.

So.....making a long story short, with the blessings of Grenada's Tourism Minister, I approached the Survivorman production crew to come to Grenada....and now they're here! I'm working as a support for them for all the on-the-ground logistics which, I've discovered is what a "Fixer" does. Sweet! Fits me like an old shirt.

In the middle of it all right now - feels like full time madness right now - but of the greatest kind!


Because I firmly believe that the people who like Survivorman, are the kind of people who will appreciate the unspoiled characteristics Grenada has to offer. I also believe that profiling Grenada this way (rather than through traditional marketing) builds a stronger relationship with Grenada's potential market - the kind of relationship that will bring quality visitors to our shores, because we don't want to be a mass tourism destination.

Below is a video of how Les Stroud's adventure began just a couple of days ago. Naturally, his problems were over once he stepped his foot on Grenada's soil **wink**

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Grenada Mourns as Chocolate Factory Founder Dies

In a small island culture like Grenada, very few foreigners successfully integrate with the village tapestry and become an integral part of lives joined by centuries of family ties, village history, and stories shared from the cradle to the grave. But Mott did that and more. He became 'one of us'; he inspired us; and there could be no one more deserving of a state funeral than he. I hope he gets one. Though Mott would probably say that would not be something he'd want to partake in (dead or alive).

Mott built more than a chocolate factory. He built a movement that demonstrated that fair trade was more than a logo, that sustainability was more than marketing (solar powered production), and he even showed us all that carbon-free shipping (as was done in the days of yonder) is not only profitable, it's uber-cool.

The video below says it all, posted on Mott's blog this week.
Rest in Peace Mott - because you did it all right - your inspiration will live on!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

True Blue Bay Resort Ranked #3 in Caribbean Best Small Hotels

Boutique hotels are all the craze now: A logical shift in a tourism market with increasingly 'experienced' travelers, confident enough to branch out from the all-inclusive holiday packages. As a result, boutique hotels are popping up everywhere, and the competition is fierce.

Grenadian hoteliers Russ and Magdalena Fielden are delighted to learn that their hotel was selected, and ranked #3 in the top ten Best Small Hotels of the Caribbean list published by Caribbean Journal. Added to their 2012 certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor, it shows they're on the right track. Following the publication of this accolade, the first thing the owners did was pass the compliment on to their employees, encouraging them to keep up the good work - which isn't a surprise since of the reasons the hotel was selected was, according to Caribbean Journal because, "The owners just know how to run a hotel - in the hands of others, it probably wouldn't be the same".

The article can be seen here:


Friday, May 10, 2013

GHTA Hosts "Farm to Table" Cocktail Event at the Calabash Hotel

The Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association will be holding a social cocktail event at the Bash Bar by Mark B, Calabash Hotel 6 – 7.30 pm on Friday 10 May 2013. The theme of the event will be Farm-to-Table Tourism and is expected to show the linkage between Tourism and Agriculture.

The Prime Minister, Ministers of Government, farmers and persons in the fishing industry have been invited and have been asked to say a few words re the importance of the synergies between agriculture and tourism using statistics or ongoing success stories to highlight their points. They have also been invited to indicate any initiative or opportunities that will/could be undertaken to improve the linkages between agriculture and tourism, increase production of quality produce, or increase demand.

Executive Chef, Mark Banthorpe will speak on things unique about the fruits and vegetables, fish and meats produced in Grenada and the amount of local produce purchased directly from farmers and fishermen.

Tickets to the event are available for purchase by members at the GHTA office at a cost of EC $40. Please note that tickets must be paid for upon collection at the office and only persons with tickets will be allowed into the event.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association Thanks Ethical Ideas

GHTA Newsletter, May 2013 - "The Economic Recovery Plan, for which the GHTA received funding from the Government of Canada, was completed at the end of March. A copy was handed over to the Prime Minister at his first quarterly meeting with the Grenada Private Sector Organization in April. Copies have also been handed to the Minister of Tourism and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism. Electronic copies have been e-mailed to members and will be posted on the members section of the Association’s Corporate Website.

The GHTA is grateful to the Government of Canada who funding made this document possible and to consultant Jennifer Alexis of Ethical Ideas for the hard work she put into completing the document in a very limited time frame.

The document will be used as a core communications tool with Government, stakeholders, and agencies, which would harmonize the efforts of all stake holders approaches to economic recovery in Grenada, in an informed and focused way".

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Ethical Ideas Raises another million for clients

Ethical Ideas is pleased to announce that a grant funding request to Compete Caribbean has ascended to the next level of consideration with a USD $50,000 grant to prepare a Cluster Competitiveness Improvement Plan (CCIP). The plan, when completed, will be presented to an investment panel to obtain up to USD $500,000 for implementation. The successful application was predicated upon a grant proposal to implement the Hotel Sector Economic Recovery Plan funded by the Canadian Government and drafted by Ethical Ideas.

In addition, Ethical Ideas has recently learned that another Caribbean Fund is in the final stages of approval (awaiting Board Signature) with a value of USD $300,000. This grant is particularly valuable to the hotel sector, because it involves grant funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. This kind of pragmatic, results oriented investment is rare from donors, who generally prefer to spin wheels with consultants rather than investing money on tangible change making activities. You can rest assured that when this fund is officially launched - I will be posting and raving about this donor!

Combined, the value of these two grants will be in excess of XCD $2 million with even more funds expected that are still in the early stages of the approval process. By the time all the grants come in, the Hotel Sector should have access to XCD $10 million to support economic recovery and energy use reduction.

The best news of all is of course that Grenada's hotel sector is one step closer to their zero carbon goal, and that this environmental solution is directly linked to economic prosperity. The Hotel Sector will be ending this great week with a cocktail party that brings stakeholders from tourism and agriculture together to strengthen the links between the two sectors. Sustainable initiatives that are just 'happening' more than being initiated are so thrilling!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Inconvenient Truths Key for Planning Island Economies Future

North Korea is rattling nuclear sabres; Canada has pulled out of a major UN convention to combat land degradation; the Sea Shepherd Society have been named pirates by a US court; dolphin safe tuna is considered a trade barrier; and yet another strain of bird flu is causing human deaths and forcing the massacre of thousands of birds.

Sounds biblical - if you believe in that kind of thing. But I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that defers my personal responsibilities to God [insert your deity of choice here]. God will do God’s job, I will do mine.

In the eyes of a sustainable development expert, it signals what happens population pressures clash with environmental capacity. No species is immune to its dependency on the environment that supports it. So how does this seemingly esoteric thought lead us back to the realities of development on a small island state?

There are several ways:

I would posit that all the small island states should be structuring their economies in keeping with global trends such as regionalism and market diversification; just enough to keep up with the pack, so to speak. Since you don’t want to pull the plug on what is before you know what you’re heading into. But I would also hazard that any economic planning that is going to carry small island economies into the future must prepare for the CUT OFF.

Imported: Food, medicine, clothing, building supplies, water, seeds, fertilizers, energy, transportation, technology….access to shipping, air travel, free movement of people…

The industrial honeymoon is over and the disturbing world trends mentioned above are only a two week snapshot of headlines.  Anyone that tries to move into the future with a business-as-usual approach will be planning for social, economic and environmental failure.

So what is required to plan for a future unknown to us that balanced between the optimism needed for socioeconomic prosperity and the realism needed for survival? A great place to start would be to recognize the inconvenient truths (Thanks for the phrase, Al, it’s really applicable to so many things!) around us, and then to turn those truths into opportunities before they kick us in our collective ass.

Regardless of why, our climate is changing. So whatever we plan to do our economies it had better be packaged with a high degree of resiliency.  Building codes need to reflect the realities to come, land use planning needs to prioritize food and water first – as a long term profit plan rather than a short term one.
Regardless of why it is happening (psst hint: population pressure, mad scientists, dozy doctors), we are have an ever increasing vulnerability to disease. So whatever we plan had better take this into consideration such as our concepts of productivity, the length of a work week,  sick leave, survivor benefits – and not just quarantine procedures.

We need innovators, not followers. Education needs to generate the intellectual capacity for effective systems management in a small island state so that prosperity can be achieved within our domestic and regional means. The Caribbean follow-the-leader teaching methods need to be expunged from our educational culture as quickly as possible.

And we have to be prepared for the likelihood of a large-scale war as the squeeze between population and resources continues to climb. This means ensuring we have developed core capacities in medicine, science, engineering, agriculture and energy. If we train good doctors but leave ourselves reliant on pharmacological trade cut off by a world war, that’d suck. Ask anyone who’s lived through a cholera epidemic how ‘crappy’ it is to have large scale death for people who can’t access drugs that can cure them. And the argument can be made over and over for all the systems that support the lifestyles we live now.

One very bright lining to this rather troublesome train of thought is that Island people are far more resilient that your average city dweller. We still know how to build our homes, grow things, fix things and do things that a few generations of city dwellers have long forgotten.
Island people are survivors.

Look at Cuba as an example – they may not have an automotive engineering industry, but they sure have succeeded in keeping cars on the road long past their shelf life. Grenadians rebuilt an entire country in three years after 90% of the country’s infrastructure was leveled by Hurricane Ivan. Go there now and you’d never know the event occurred as recently as 2004. And Haitians who have every reason in the world to throw up their arms and give up, defy the obstacles in their way and keep forging ahead.

In many ways, we’re better positioned to ride out the future than most countries in the world, but our success in doing so will depend greatly on our foresight and whether we take inconvenient truths into consideration when governing our countries and planning our economic future.  For now, we need to invest in tourism, create jobs, reduce our debt and keep our island safe. But, while we’re doing that, we must plan to achieve food security, energy security, water security and social security as successes defined by our ability to meet these needs without outside help. If any of our Islands in the Region are able to achieve this in the next ten years – our future will be bright indeed.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I am not really a big fan of changing labels on global movements, because it takes an awfully long time for new ideas to catch on. 20 years ago, my classmates in the first graduating class of Environmental Studies at York University Canada were talking about 'green economics'. Precious few others were. Now, the concept of a 'green economy' is starting to go mainstream....which is good! But like most things, once it goes global and has a bunch of hands on it - the original concept gets washed out.

So as the Green Economy gets muddied by the Brown Economy (brown refers to the status quo for anyone asking) - the concept is revitalized with a new label:


I like it. And I like this minimalist video that explains so succinctly the common sense foundation to it all.

I am expecting to embark on a contract to draft an Economic Stimulus Plan for the Hotel Sector in Grenada starting Monday. I will do my best to integrate as much of this thinking into it as possible because it will save my clients money, open up new markets and protect the environment.

Let's see what a good saleswoman I am!?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ethical Ideas Declares Energy Campaign a Success

In April of 2012, Ethical Ideas Consulting embarked on a journey with the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association to address the major challenge of energy in the small island state of Grenada. Ethical Ideas started the campaign by facilitating agreement among members for an “Earth Day Declaration” that articulated the following:

Desire: Reduce Energy Costs

The Result: Grenada’s Hotels now have the opportunity to invest in 100kw renewable energy systems with net metering and a set price of XCD $0.54 cents per kilowatt hour.

Prior to the Campaign: Hotels could invest in renewable energy systems, but they had to sell 100% of the energy produced to the utility and buy it back with more than a 100% mark-up in cost.

Desire: Liberalize renewable energy, regulated by the Eastern Caribbean Electricity Regulatory Authority (ECERA).

The Result: Renewable energy has been liberalized through the use of ‘special purpose vehicles’ which are companies that are set up for a specific purpose (in this case it would be producing renewable energy). The new energy framework will be regulated by ECERA.

In addition to the lobby with the Government and GRENLEC, Ethical Ideas led the appeal on behalf of the Tourism Sector to have the Clinton Foundation come to Grenada. In addition to giving my most passionate elevator pitch ever to one of President Clinton’s Aides, several project outlines that have been developed for several Ethical Ideas clients were submitted to the Foundation to illustrate the sustainable potential of this small island state. Check them out, the Foundation is a GREAT organization: http://www.clintonfoundation.org/

The Minister of Finance informed the audience at the consultation for the New Energy Framework, that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between Grenada and the Foundation. Negotiations of this type take place at the highest levels, and details have not yet been shared with any non-state actors.
The SIDSDock Proposal will hopefully be reviewed in April, and if that happens, the Sector should benefit from some grant/soft loan support for Energy Audits and retrofits. This will be great because it can yield 50% reductions in energy consumption.

All of this helps the Hotel Sector reach their goal to become the first zero carbon hotel sector in the Caribbean. Ethical Ideas is very pleased that the exhaustive lobby (captured in previous posts on this blog) has been successful and that all the players who dedicated themselves to making their desires heard have been rewarded. Politically motivated detractors might claim that realizing every single lobby point is luck – but in my experience – luck isn’t that thorough.

I wish I could thank everyone that helped on this campaign personally, but naming names on this small island state is a much bigger political act than anyone in a large country could imagine, and an election is on. So I will have to figure out how recognize people's efforts without blowing up a sand storm in the process. It may have to stand for now recognize the obvious fact that the nature of lobbying requires the input of others so there's a long list of people to be Thanked.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Government Consultation on Energy

The Government will be hosting a 'Public Discussion' with selected stakeholders (I am among them) to go over the contents of the 'A New Development Framework for the Energy Sector'circulated by the Government on December. This is being welcomed by all, since the published document raises as many questions as it answers. Recent statements made in the media by persons connected to this deal also suggest that the sale has not been officially completed. If there is a need to update or correct my previous posts on the subject following this meeting I will - so watch this space!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Greece: The odyssey - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

Greece: The odyssey - People & Power - Al Jazeera English

The link above will lead you to an interesting news documentary presented on Al Jazeera that profiles how Greek professionals - marginalized from their city jobs - are returning to the land with sustainable, entrepreneurial ideas. Grenada shares many economic similarities with Greece, including a culture rooted in the land.

Friday, January 4, 2013


On November 27th, a Successor Agreement between the Government of Grenada and the Barbados based Light and Power Holdings Ltd. (LPH) was signed. This means that the majority shareholder in GRENLEC, which had been WRB Enterprises/Grenada Private Power Ltd has now sold their shares to a subsidiary of Canadian based EMERA. The subsidiary, Light and Power Holdings has purchased 61.4% of GRENLEC shares. The Government has one year to purchase the 11.4% shares to ensure EMERA/LPH are compliant with the 50% ownership policy. The Framework does not clearly stipulate the consequences if this did not happen.

The initial response by Grenadians following developments in the nation’s energy sector has been positive; as several local news and social media reported with a measure of jubilation that Grenada’s energy monopoly had been finally broken paving the way forward for renewable energy liberalization.

Has It?

It is commendable on the Government’s part to have released the most comprehensive map of Grenada’s energy framework that has ever been available to the public, although it was shared after the deal was signed. Analysts will certainly appreciate the detailed ownership profile and contextual background provided, that was intended to enable the public to understand the details of the transaction as they have occurred. But there is little question the intricacies of the Framework are still not simplified enough for general public consumption.

In the (apparent) attempt to be transparent, generalized statements and contradicting information has been presented, leaving a scrutinizing reader with as many questions as there are answers provided.

Our Renewable Future

The Successor Agreement between the Government and EMERA include a new interconnection policy that will provide an opportunity for citizens to invest in renewable energy, such as solar panels for systems up to 15 kilowatts. That’s great, since most households don’t need more than that, and the new policy allows householders to take the first draw of power on their systems and sell a portion of their surplus energy (if there is any) at a fixed rate. Hopefully, that will do a lot to stimulate business for solar energy retailers targeting the domestic market. There’s a ceiling to the growth however, capped at 5% of the peak demand (which is 30MW), until grid impact studies are done.

The questions raised in the new interconnection policy however include:

- Since the 5% cap will ‘be revised after consultation with GRENLEC on studies on grid stability thresholds’ we have to wonder who will conduct these studies? Will there be an independent review? Or will the lucky 5% be the only 5% that benefit from this policy?

- If we assume that a reasonable portion of the 5% would be reserved for household use, based on the cap established approximately 10 businesses could take advantage of the 100kW offer.

- Renewable Energy Special Purpose Vehicles (RESPV’s) are traditional renewable energy financing instruments, but they are also commonly used to financial liabilities that can skew corporations financial profile such as ENRON did. Does Grenada have sufficient financial legislation to protect the public from any inappropriate use of SPV’s?

- Who has the final say on who the RESPV partners are going to be?

Does Civil Society Get a Second Chance at Investing in Solar Farms?

One of the positive highlights could be the introduction of the RESVP Framework since it provides a policy opening for civil society stakeholders to invest in a renewable energy facility perhaps in a shared partnership with another private company and GRENLEC. The RESVP framework was likely agreed upon to facilitate Geothermal energy development and private equity investments in renewable energy. But - this might actually represent the lifting of the barrier my Hotel and Tourism clients faced when I tried to get a community solar farm set up for them. In 2012, independent energy generation was a NO-GO! Will we be able to re-open this door to reap the benefits of climate financing, collect undesignated revenues for social programming and economic growth while advancing a carbon neutral goal?

With respect to how the sale of the majority shares will affect Grenadian consumers on a more personal level, there isn’t much good news [yet]. EMERA has a controversial reputation in the other markets where they operate subsidiary utilities. One market even has their own consumer site operating, which can be found at this link: Grenadians might find themselves singing the words of Joni Mitchell “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” but hopefully the strong and committed technical and management team at GRENLEC will help keep potential consumer concerns at bay as they begin operating with new owners.

There is no question ‘The New Developmental Framework for the Grenada’s Electricity Sector’ has several areas that require clarification. Recognizing that the Government’s announcement was trying to capture an enormous amount of information in a very short document, ambiguities are to be expected. The Government has organized a stakeholder consultation early next week, so further analysis on this aspect of the transaction will be reserved until then.