The future is already here

Project Barbados – Vision 2030: Barbados, the healthiest place in the world to live and recuperate.

Since I have started on this mission to generate a conversation on creating a vision for Barbados that we can all work towards, I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the large number of persons who share similar views for our country’s future.

However, equally, what is noticeable and even very scary is the vast number of people who are pessimistic and cynical about likelihood for tangible change to occur. Perhaps collectively, we do not have the will, the fight or the burning pain to make the concept of change look even remotely possible.

In a sense, we have lost the desire to be architects of our destiny; we have become takers rather than craftsmen and women of our fate. I say, Stop it! Stop it, Barbados! We are not powerless. Firstly, we need to recognize that our project Barbados is not a huge task. 

Barbados is made up of approximately 300,000 people and there are companies in the world that are bigger that manage to chart strategies and embark on them with success. Cities plan projects with budgets and stakeholders far larger than the budget we need to manage as a country of 166 square miles.

When we put this in perspective, this project is not a big project and therefore is quite achievable. The daunting nature of the task is not physical; it is not how many pieces of legislation need to be changed, the real challenge is mental or psychological.

Quite frankly, we need to summon the will and the boldness to pursue what we desire. Secondly, everything that we want and aspire to has already been done. – The future is already here! We can leverage a few of the things we are good at, while copying the best of what we want and mapping it to our scale.

Thirdly, we cannot expect it to happen overnight; that is why strategies have tactics attached to them so that you accomplish established milestones as you progress. It is not microwave change that we are looking for; we are looking to build sustainable social and economic change, so it will take time to change attitudes, policies, practices and mindsets.

Basically, we need to look at re-educating and retooling a nation over time. This therefore implies that we must start with the curriculum in the primary education system. Finally, we can chew gum and walk at the same time; in the strictest sense it is not a project, it is a programme.  We need to fix multiple things at the same time; all with one goal in mind.

It is this shared ultimate vision that becomes the glue to connect the disparate parts to work concurrently. This programme cannot be executed by a Government as it requires a Programme Team where Government is the executive sponsor and the policy maker. However, in terms of implementation, we need a Project Team to work in partnership with Government as the policy changes are made, while multi-sectoral teams map out the implementation plans and roll out the respective projects.

Of course, there are some key stakeholders which we will need to engage; in fact, we have to start out on the premise of a unified vision which is shared by all. The first bit of work would be establishing the shared vision amongst all stakeholders – the two major political parties, unions, staff associations, big business, small business, professionals and even, our international partners.

The discussion of this vision and adoption of it need to happen before the next election because whoever wins will be automatically the executive sponsor. Change of this magnitude and gravity cannot be about a party; this is about country, so it must happen regardless of who is in the executive chair.

I have always been an eternal optimist but this does not so much require optimism, as much as it requires practicality and doses of self-belief. We do not have to look far for our successes to support self-belief, we have run similar projects before successfully; look to the University of the West Indies and the Caribbean Development Bank.

We have created game changing longstanding institutions like the National Insurance Scheme and a credible and respected Central Bank, along with a strong financial system. I am telling you this is not difficult and can be done.

Let’s consider a few live test cases for adoption:

Education – Finland, Japan, Canada, Caricom “Caribbean Ideal Person” learnt about this a few days ago.

Transportation – Madrid, Lisbon, Sydney, Copenhagen.

Health Care – Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong.

Business/Government Facilitation – Kenya, St. Lucia, Cayman Islands.

Part of the self-belief is also in knowing that we do not need to re-invent the wheel. The future is already here; it has already been done; all we need to do is step into it, deliberately. Project Barbados – Vision 2030, Barbados the healthiest place in the world to live and recuperate.

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