The Green Economy
Environmental effects of a catastrophic event with negative environmental impacts, an oil spill for example, highlight the complex relationship between environmental deterioration and economic growth.
Ecological, Economic Advantages to “Go Green”
When it comes to providing environmental services in the global economy, Latin America and the Caribbean have some distinct ecological, economic advantages. The enormous natural and cultural diversity of the region, as well as its innovative approaches to green technologies achieved are examples of this.
The region has an opportunity to participate in this market through projects that diminish carbon emissions by developing more efficient energy sources (solar, wind and hydraulic energy) as well as maintaining and/or enriching existing ecosystems that have the capacity to absorb emissions. Achieving this transition could require the technical and financial support of large corporations as well as small and medium sized businesses. It is important that the region prepares itself for participation in this potential market.
Green Environmental Efforts
The aftermath of an oil spill can cause serious environmental consequences and has more than ever shifted the attention of environmental “green” efforts.
- Rethinking the convergence of economic growth, equity and environmental sustainability;
- Re articulating the comparative advantages of the region in terms of the global environmental agenda
- Restructuring regional and sub-regional spaces according to sustainability
- Understanding the need for greater solidarity and reflexive citizenship regarding environmental issues; and
- Creating a new social contract for sustainable development.
The Hotel Industry Goes Green
As an example, we will focus on the Cayman Islands. The hotel and entertainment industry is the largest industry in the Cayman Islands. And the largest hotel in the Cayman Islands is the Ritz Carlton. The senior managers at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman are working to achieve more energy efficiency as well as a more thorough awareness of the resort’s footprint in the environmentally fragile Cayman Islands.
Unleaded gasoline on the big island of Grand Cayman recently reached an overwhelming cost of $9.50 per gallon. As the island’s second largest employer and often Cayman Utility Company’s (CUC) largest customer, the Ritz Carlton is working to reduce its total environmental footprint.
“With the rapidly rising energy costs on Cayman, the economics of having a person devoted to the reduction of those costs simply made sense”, according to Director of Engineering, Tom Sperando. “We have a financial obligation to our owners, but more importantly we have an obligation to the people of the Cayman Islands and the people who come to enjoy its natural environment to protect it.”
Environmental “Green” Responsibilities: Actions Speak Louder Than Words
Actions speak louder than words and the Ritz Carlton has taken some significant steps towards its commitment to environmental responsibility. Two diverse groups are applying their knowledge, ingenuity and passion to lead these efforts: the engineering team which is responsible for the hotel’s physical product, and the Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau, which runs eco-adventure programs that teach guests and residents about Cayman’s natural world and universal principles of environmental sustainability. Additionally, with the creation of a new position: Energy Reduction Manager. Eric Mildenberger, a young American with a double bachelor’s degree in Green Building and Appropriate Technology, filled this occupation.
While Mr. Mildenberger brings scientific knowledge and technical expertise to his position, he also has a passion for wildlife conservation and environmental preservation, which he shares with the naturalists who run the Ambassadors of the Environment by Jean-Michel Cousteau program.
Ambassador of the Environment Program
The Ritz’s “Ambassador’s of the Environment” program takes four basic ecological principles, breaks them down and demonstrates them in the natural environment so that they can be understood and adopted by guests as young as four years old:
- Everything runs on energy
- Diversity is good
- There is no waste in nature
- Everything is connected
Small and Medium Sized Businesses “Go Green”
Small and medium sized businesses in the Cayman are acting environmentally responsible too. A popular diving company located in the Cayman Islands, Divetceh, announced in 2009 that they were opening a new shore diving site, powered by wind and solar. The new shore diving site at “Lighthouse Point Dive Resort” has an extremely healthy reef and the abundance of marine life is astounding. By moving their facilities to the new “green” site, the company will protect the sensitive reef and provide visitors a more interesting chartered experience.
Companies Benefit by Going Green and Illustrating Environmental Responsibility
Companies are illustrating that by implementing the use of nature-friendly renewable resources, they are reducing environmental deterioration, and this responsibility can be a badge of honor. Customers recognize the impact that the use of nature-friendly renewable resources have on the environment and are taking notice. When it comes to environment, businesses recognize that to be a part of the solution is not only good for the environment but also good for their bottom line. From large corporate hotel chains to small or medium sized businesses such as a local diving outlet, many companies are now advertising their green credentials.
In droves, companies are going green. Many don’t want to miss the opportunity to promote how much CO2 their company has saved. As well as helping to address the greatest environmental challenge faced. Companies realize that by promoting the best practices for their industry, they will be recognized for it.