Out of the ashes of this pandemic, Guernsey will emerge faster and stronger than almost any other European nation. This is the opportunity of a generation to redefine and readjust our island to the place we want it and need it to be, says Fred Betley, sustainability advisor, at ESI Monitor
Sustainability is the issue that will define our future ambitions as a society. We have profited amazingly from our developments; technologically, industrially, and infrastructure-wise but they have been built with little regard for their long-term effects on the environment, the economy, or our society.
If we cannot create a world that lives harmoniously with nature, allows for equal opportunity for every individual, and creates prosperity for all, then we cannot expect to inhabit our world for much longer.
For those of us that have been lucky enough to enjoy the island at its most quiet and undisturbed we have developed a new perspective and love for our island’s natural beauty and serenity.
Life will return to ‘normal’, but attitudes will no doubt change. As the world has witnessed Venetian waters clear, so we will see them murk over; as we have breathed cleaner air, we will begin see it smog; and as we have watched wildlife return, so too could we see it leave. We have been removed from normal life, and when we return we will see it with a fresh pair of eyes.
We can see our island for how beautiful it is, and in this time of solidarity, we can see our community for how beautiful it is. So let’s use this knowledge and pride to build the best version of Guernsey.
Guernsey has a unique set of circumstances that allows us to benefit, almost immediately from embracing sustainability. Guernsey Post transitioned to an all-electric delivery fleet primarily for the cost-benefits; our recycling system is one of the best in the world because we are organised and responsible as a community; and Guernsey Finance want to define Guernsey as the centre of sustainable finance because we have the industry to support it. The only thing that is stopping our island from being a driving force for local and global good is a lack of coordinated ambitions.
During this pandemic we have acted as one, working together for the safety and prosperity of the Island, so we know that we are able to define our ambitions as an island to fulfil our goals. So it’s time to create goals as an island, supported by people, businesses, and government to help achieve ambitious targets of sustainability.
By what year do we want to be carbon-neutral as an island (meaning our net output of CO2 is 0)? What opportunities do we want to give to every child? How can we best support those whose mental or physical health has been weakened? How can we inspire diversity and equality of gender, race, and class? How can we protect our island’s biodiversity? And how can we inspire economic opportunity and innovation?
The best place for Guernsey to start is by committing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These are 17 goals that have been agreed upon by all 196 UN member states. They range from 1. No poverty, to 3. Good Health and Wellbeing, to 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, and 13. Climate Action.
Committing also means measuring and managing businesses and governments’ environmental impacts, this is what we do at ESI Monitor, because you can’t manage what you can’t measure and it’s time to act not just virtue signal.
If Guernsey government, schools, shops, businesses, and individuals can work together on achieving these goals then we truly can make Guernsey the best place in the world to live. The most significant action we can make is coordinating our ambitions as an island, so they can be achieved in harmony and collaboration. Whatever we put our minds and passion to can be achieved- we just need to work together to achieve it.