Virgin Islands family, question for you: “What do you envision our beloved Virgin Islands will look like in 2040?”
I will be in my 60s, and I most definitely want to see a healthier population that owns the economy. I want to see an education system that empowers and equips our children’s children to pursue careers anywhere in the world. I want to see us safeguard our history and heritage through preservation of cultural sites, a national museum, a national archive, and VI history being taught from pre-school to college.
We should also be in a position to contemplate our next move as it relates to self-governance after a foundation has been laid over the next decade and a half.
Many of us contemplated running away from home when we were 6 years old because our parents wouldn’t let us have our own way, but it wasn’t feasible. Then we grew up, learned how to become responsible for ourselves, and moved out. That’s life: Everything must go through a process.
So let’s have a discussion over the next month about the draft National Sustainable Development Plan that is meant guide us for the next 15 years.
What does that mean? Simply put, we are making decisions today that will leave the place better off than we met it for the next generation. The territory should be growing from strength to strength because there is a future vision that unites us and sets priorities to focus our development activities and resources.
I haven’t read the draft plan in its entirety yet, but kudos to the team on what they have compiled so far.
But I must say I was disappointed to see the list of consultations didn’t include non-governmental organisations like Scouts, Guides, Family Support Network, WINBVI, Zonta Club, Interact, Rotaract, Youth Empowerment Project, Association of Reef Keepers, Marine Association, Teacher’s Union, Medical Association, Civil Service Association, BVI Christian Council, churches, media, artist associations, and taxi associations, to mention a few.
Other suggestions on people who need to weigh in on this plan are port agencies, the Commercial Court, the International Arbitration Centre, Customs, Immigration, National Parks Trust, BVI Tourist Board, Recreation Trust, BVI Health Services Authority, Financial Services Commission, youth parliamentarians, and retired senior public officers.
Nation building is everybody and everybody’s business, and we must not leave it to the politicians and public service alone. Participation by the civil society (people) is part and parcel of good governance, as the Commission of Inquiry has taught us.
Despite the “planning fatigue” we all feel from plans that have come and gone by the wayside, this is an opportunity of a lifetime to have a say in the VI we all want for our grandchildren’s children to live and thrive in. I encourage every Virgin Islander to read the draft development plan, attend the public consultations, or email your contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org to make sure this is truly the people’s plan!
I suggest starting with Chapter Two to get a snapshot of the national goals and work your way around from there. I also would like to suggest to the planning team that a webpage on the government’s website and a Facebook page should be created for something as paramount as this to centralise communications on the plan, allow submissions and have continuing dialogue about the plan from this point straight through to implementation and monitoring.
For example: Every week a national goal could be discussed to further educate the public on what they are in language simple enough for a 10-year-old to understand. It is their future we are planning.
‘All hands on deck’
Virgin Islands family, we are building a nation and it is an all-hands-on-deck situation, so let your voices be heard loud and clear.
I want to see us build a country we will be proud to call home. That is not to say we wouldn’t have problems along the way, but with a plan and belief that greater is possible, we will succeed.
The plan can be read at http://bvi.gov.vg/media-centre/national-sustainable-development-plan-public-consultation. Documents are attached to the bottom of the press release.