There has been a “talk shop” over the last 20 years about where we want to see our territory in the future. Two decades later, we are still talking.
I would like to close the “shop” permanently and open a purposeful conversation on what is a national vision, why it is important, and how it will be accomplished. I think this will help us actually get one done this time, because we first need to appreciate the value of the process if we want to be in a better situation 20 years from now. This is not about projects or programmes, but what we call outcomes or quality of life. For example: Are Virgin Islanders able to make a living wage, have access to excellent quality public education and health care systems, and afford to own a house and land? If not, why not? And what do we need to do to make it a reality?
The 2017 hurricanes and the Covid-19 pandemic only served to remind us that while we have accomplished many things, more is needed for our people to realise their full potential and not struggle with the necessities like food and shelter.
I admit that the list of issues looks and feels overwhelming, but as an engineer I know that solutions come when we are intentional about looking for the root causes to the problem and solving them.
Planning for quick wins only leads to talking about the same problems years later. It is time to stop the “talking” and make specific decisions about these Virgin Islands that our grandchildren will inherit.
USVI economic plan
Our United States VI neighbours released their “Vision 2040” 20-year economic plan earlier this year, and the process they used is a good example of the best practice of community-driven planning for consensus. Here is the USVI Economic Development Authority’s website: https://www.usvi2040.com/about. Please check out their process and plan as we start our dialogue.
There are three things I want to point out: They had a task force of various stakeholders; the diaspora (people who live outside the USVI) were engaged; and there are clear roles and responsibilities as to who is responsible for implementing the vision.
Stay tuned as we continue the change in conversation for a better Virgin Islands!