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Jamaica is a green, island nation situated in the heart of the Caribbean. The island is the third-largest of the Greater Antilles, behind Cuba and Hispaniola (the island containing the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic). With a population of just 3 million people, Jamaica is well known the world over for its vibrant culture – an impressive feat for a nation of its size.
Millions of tourists each year visit Jamaica for its spectacular natural landscapes, from the beaches of Portland to the coffee farms of the Blue Mountains. But, like all countries, Jamaica also has to contend with environmental problems that are compounded by being a small island nation. As the world wakes up to the risks of climate change, the threats of sea-level rise and strong hurricanes are very clear to the island. But Jamaica is also home to activists and entrepreneurs dedicated to championing a sustainable future .
In the past, Jamaica has banned disposable plastic and committed to 50% renewable energy by 2030. There are many men and women in Jamaica doing fantastic work in sustainability and beyond, and this is just a small sample of the island’s talent.
From NGOs, government and private sector, meet some of the women championing sustainability on this Caribbean Island nation - with impressive results.
Heather Pinnock, Acting General Manager At The Urban Development Corporation
Heather is a Jamaican sustainable development professional with training in Architecture, Urban Design, Planning, Project Management & Green Economy as well as over 20 years of experience in Caribbean construction & development sectors. She’s a Bachelor of Arts and Architectural Studies, with a Masters Degree in Science and a Postgraduate Certificate on Climate Change. She has also coordinated major environmental programs at the University of West Indies and the United Nations for Development Program. She now leads a team of nearly 100 professionals at the Urban Development Corporation of Jamaica.
My current mission is urbanity, resilient built environments and the promotion of sustainable living in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Claire Nelson, Chief Ideation Leader At The Futures Forum
A Purdue graduate with over 30 years of experience in international development, Claire is a strategic thinker, change agent, keynote speaker and innovator, who established the Caribbean American Advocacy Organization and the Institute of Caribbean Studies. She also established the Annual Congressional Forum on Capitol Hill on US/Caribbean relations and pioneered the White House Briefing for the Caribbean American Community in 1999. She was also commended in the US Congressional Record as a leader and the architect of June as National Caribbean American Heritage Month.
The Futures Forum is a non-profit focused on education, research and consultancy in the area of strategic foresight and sustainability engineering. The practice is dedicated to promoting the use of “Futures Thinking and Strategic Foresight” in service of the sustainable development agenda, for organizations in both the public and private sector.
Suzanne Stanley, CEO At Jamaica Environment Trust
Suzanne Stanley is the CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), a non-profit, non-government membership organization based in Kingston. JET leads high profile environmental education and advocacy programmes that are implemented all across Jamaica by a small vibrant team of exceptional young women from a variety of professional and academic backgrounds. A Bachelor in Geography and a Masters Degree on Environmental Change and Management with honors from Oxford University, Suzanne is responsible for the leadership of JET including strategic planning, programmatic oversight and environmental advocacy.
JET uses education, advocacy and the law to influence behavior and environmental policy. Their vision for Jamaica’s future is one where citizens care about the environment, environmental issues are given a high priority on the national agenda, and natural areas are protected and properly managed. JET has undertaken a wide range of impactful projects towards these goals including a flagship environmental education project, the Schools’ Environment Programme, coordination of International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica, the Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica public education campaign, and advocacy campaigns towards the protection of Jamaican natural places – Save Cockpit Country, Save Goat Islands.
Lisa Binns, Founder Of Stush In The Bush
Lisa, a Barbados born, US raised, former high school principal from Brooklyn, NY, was vacationing on Jamaica in 2009 when she met the loves of her life. Embracing his Rastafarian traditions, she also found her love for sustainable organic agriculture. Now Lisa offers organic, healthy produce such as vegetables, fruits and spices, to Jamaicans and foreign visitors, as well as delicious vegetarian dishes which combine soul food techniques with the island’s own traditional cuisine through the Stush In The Bush experience.
Lauren Le Franc, Founder Of The Little Coffee Company
Small scale farmers in Jamaica are often forced to sell their coffee for low prices to middlemen. Dominated by the big players in the market, small farmers find it difficult to access funds. Lauren’s business is changing Jamaica for the better by giving farmers direct access to the market. Farmers are paid more, have transparency of sale and a guaranteed market.
Lauren is a lawyer from BPP Law School and the City University of London, who was captivated by the small farmers from Jamaica that cultivate some of the most unique coffee beans in the world. She then saw a business opportunity that could help those farmers to export their coffee worldwide, and the Little Coffee Company was born. Her motto is “Bridging the gap between farmers and buyers through technology ”. She is also a Trustee Global Board Member on Common Purpose, an NPO that develops leaders that can help solve problems on cities and organizations.
I would say our biggest opportunity for tech and sustainability is in agriculture. There needs to be reliable and consistent trade from Jamaica and often this is not the case – which makes it unsustainable.
Emma Lewis, Blogger And Environmental Advocate
Emma uses her writing and public relations skills to support and advocate for others, especially in the non-governmental sector and civil society. She is a Director of the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, the Natural History Museum of Jamaica and the Farquharson Institute of Public Affairs, in addition to being a member of Inter-American Development Bank Civil Society Consulting Group, Media Working Group of BirdsCaribbean and of the anti-corruption lobby group National Integrity Action. She is a former director of Eve for Life Jamaica (working with young HIV-positive mothers) and a former director of J-FLAG (serving the needs of the LGBT community).
Emma runs Petchary’s Blog, in which she aims to reach out to the Jamaican community and acts as the voice of those who are left behind.
The Petchary is the Jamaican name for the Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicennis) – a summer visitor to the island. Its name echoes its strident cry. Sometimes called the Storm Bird, it will sing all night, and chase away John Crows.
Allison Rangolan, Chief Technical Director At Environmental Foundation Of Jamaica
Allison, a Marine Biologist, is the Chief Technical Director at the Environment Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), an institute which helps the environment and child survival & development projects. She is also a member of the Women in Renewable Energy Network launched by the Clinton Foundation.
The EFJ was established to facilitate the promotion and implementation of activities which will conserve and manage the natural resources and environment of Jamaica. The organization has been working to this end through the provision of funding to NGO and community-based organisations, academic institutions and in partnership with key stakeholders throughout the length and breadth of the island. The funding provided by EFJ has impacted the natural and built environmental landscape, children, communities, livelihoods, plant and animal species to name a few.
Renewable energy is an important complementary and/or alternative to traditional energy generation. As the impacts associated with climate change become more pronounced, the need to identify and implement ways to reduce, and, where possible, reverse these impacts becomes more evident, and renewable energy is one such means.
Andrea Dempster-Chung, Founder Of Kingston Creative
Andrea is a structural engineer, serial entrepreneur, business consultant and coach for creative entrepreneurs. She works closely with businesses to develop winning strategies and actionable plans that help them to achieve their goals. Her passion is empowering creative entrepreneurs by enabling them to build sustainable, profitable businesses. A Stanford graduate, Andrea is an enthusiast for the environment causes.
She is the founder of the Kingston Creative, which intends to establish an Art District and Creative Hub in Downtown Kingston including the development of coworking spaces, digital studios, public art, artisanal markets, augmented reality murals, art events and ‘gameified‘ tours of the district. This will incorporate both gaming and AR technologies and benefit creatives working in digital art, animation and film. The goals are to achieve social change, economic growth and a lasting transformation in the urban environment.
Jamaica’s “superpower” is its culture. The biggest opportunity that we see lies in leveraging the country’s innate competitive advantage to achieve economic social and environmental benefits.
Susan Otuokon, Executive Director At Jamaica Conservation And Development Trust
As Executive Director of the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT), a non-government organization founded in 1988, Susan’s main focus is on managing the Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park and World Heritage Site. This site covers almost 5% of Jamaica’s land surface, and encompasses a rugged and extensively forested mountainous region in the south-east of Jamaica, which provided refuge first for the indigenous Tainos and then for Maroons (formerly enslaved peoples). The forests offered the Maroons everything they needed for their survival and they developed strong spiritual connections with the mountains, still manifest through the intangible cultural legacy of religious rites, traditional medicine and dances. The site is a biodiversity hotspot with a high proportion of endemic plant species, especially lichens, mosses and certain flowering plants.
Susan Otuokon holds a Doctorate in Environmental Management and Ecotourism in Protected Areas from the University of the West Indies and is considered an expert in environmental conservation in the Caribbean.
Valrie Grant, Managing Director Of GeoTechVision Enterprises
Valrie is the founder and Managing Director of GeoTechVision, which specializes in innovative spatial technologies and business ICT solutions with offices in Kingston, Jamaica and Georgetown, Guyana. Valrie is also Executive Chairman of Marlie Technology Park Ltd and has over 15 years experience as a government employee and consultant for a wide range of public and private organizations in the Caribbean.
Valrie got started in GIS purely by accident and is now a certified GIS professional turned entrepreneur. She is the current president of the Caribbean Urban Regional Information Systems Association and a member of United Nations Global Geospatial Information Management Americas Caribbean Project Technical Committee.
The big opportunities for Jamaica include leveraging a mix of location technologies, IOT and big data to create smart communities.
If you enjoyed this article don’t forget to read about The Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Lighting Up Jamaica.
February 7, 2019 at 07:44AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs