Join the conversation on our sustainable future
Climate change is real. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has provided unequivocal proof that the climate is changing. IPCC reports show that changes due to CO2 emissions will likely trigger extreme weather events, all with potentially devastating impacts. Let us remember the cost, distress and damage caused by the heavy rains and flooding in 2011 in Curaçao, which took the lives of two of our citizens.
Curaçao faces loss of land due to rising sea levels. According to a report from the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) the country may expect a loss of 4.4 square kilometers of territory before 2050. The majority of hotels and resorts are situated close to the coast line and it is estimated that 8 percent of hotel rooms are destroyed due to rising sea levels. While people in Curacao may not be aware of these risks, the cost of climate impact on the island may exceed 3 billion dollars.
The estimated financial damage to the tourism sector does not include the current pollution of the environment and health hazards as a result of the refining of oil on the island. Contamination of the air with sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxide and small particles, resulting in lung diseases and cancer, costs lives and millions of dollars in medical expenses. Pressure is mounting on the government to find a solution to the major pollution problems generated by the refinery.
To minimize the negative consequences of a changing climate, however, it is necessary to ‘decarbonize’ our economy. But can Curaçao begin to decarbonize while also maintaining – increasing – fossil fuel production? Is Curaçao depending on an energy source that is growing obsolete, or at least too environmentally costly to rely on? These questions are fundamental to Curaçao’s future.
The country imports most food products and materials. The problem with relying heavy on import of products is the tendency to ignore any negative side effects of the production process in the country of origin. Industrial production and processing of foods involves the use of pesticides, artificial additives, dyes and hormones, which pollute the environment and have health implications for those consuming these products.
There's a lot to think about when choosing construction materials – how they're sourced, how they’re made, how far they have to travel, how long they'll last. There's no one-size-fits-all solution.
But there are bigger dilemmas. Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction. It is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation. The United Nations urges a global move towards a meat and dairy free diet to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.
The importance of business to manage the climate disaster we are facing is immense. As sustainability pioneer Ray Henderson said, “There is only one institution on earth that is large enough, powerful enough, pervasive enough, wealthy enough, and influential enough to really lead human kind in a different direction, out of the mess that we have created for ourselves… that is the institution of business and industry.”
What is sustainability?
Sustainability is an approach to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of our children and grand children to have a prosperous life. It takes into account the short- and long-term ecological, social and economic consequences of our actions.
Imagine a world in which socially responsible and eco-friendly practices actually boost a company’s bottom line. Social capital and consumer markets are upcoming market concepts. The more attention on these markets, the faster they will evolve.
The desire of a growing number of Curaçaoans to eat locally produced organic food is another sustainable habit that should be nourished. Organic agriculture can contribute to meaningful socio-economic and ecologically sustainable development. This is due on the one hand to efficient management of local resources and therefore cost effectiveness. On the other hand, the market for organic products – at local and international level – has tremendous growth prospects and offers creative producers and exporters excellent opportunities to improve their income and living conditions.
Our society needs critical information to manage the interconnected environmental and societal risks emerging from the current environmental socio-economic changes. Sustainable Curaçao wants to create awareness on sustainability issues and developments in order to create sane discussions on the topic of sustainable development. The magazine strives to bring together bright minds and big ideas which span a wide range of disciplines including agriculture, ecology, management and economics, energy, physics, political science, resource management, sociology and transportation. Help shape the future of Curacao by sharing your thoughts with other local experts on innovative solutions to challenging issues. Dialogues on sustainability will generate a wealth of information that will help us all.
What IPCC stands for
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts. In the same year, the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC.
The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information.