Independence and Politics- A call for ‘the Sustainable Development Smart’ Politician

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By John N Telesford, Lecturer – TAMCC

Independence suggests that a nation is sovereign and has the autonomy (freedom) to make its own choices. Since 1974, Grenada was declared independent or was provided the right of a sovereign nation-charting its own development pathway. The year 2018, marks 44 years of Grenada’s independence and this birthday is celebrated under the theme: ‘Forging ahead together for continued national development’. Let me congratulate the People of Grenada on this landmark in our history.

The independence theme is especially fitting in this era of the sustainable development agenda 2030. This agenda should provide some level of guidance for moving ahead with national development. Guided by the 17 sustainable development goals or SDGs, a holistic vision for Grenada’s sustainable development can be crafted. Focused on the pillars of dignity, justice, propriety, people, planet (our local and global environments) and partnerships, this vision may be celebrated in 2030 or on the 56th anniversary of independence. In other words, if we plan effectively for meeting the SDGs in 2030, then for independence we can reflect on the 2018 theme and say that we moved ahead with our national development.

However, moving into 2030 and beyond, politics will play a significant role. As an independent nation, we are now able to elect and reject political parties and individuals whom we think are not capable of leading the charge towards ‘sustainable’ national development. Environmental threats made more extreme and more regular due to climate change and other global issues such as economic recessions can hinder development progress. We saw the impacts of hurricanes Ivan and Emily and the global recession that we are desperately attempting to claw our way out of. In the face of these realities, political leadership is regarded as a crucial driver of national development.

Grenadians are about to go back to the polls to exercise their independent right to elect a political party to lead the development thrust for the next five years. Although it seems as though this will detract from the independence celebrations, indeed it may complement it. If we as voters dwell on the theme for independence, we should give serious consideration to the politicians who strive for inclusive development. By this I mean politicians who have demonstrated ‘smart environmental, economic and social leadership’.

As independent minded voters and as you look around and follow the election campaign, please pay close attention to politicians who speak of and demonstrate commitment to:

  • Dignity- which is to end poverty and fight inequality;
  • Prosperity, which is to grow a strong, inclusive and transformative economy;
  • Justice or to promote safe and peaceful societies and strong institutions;
  • Planet, which is to commit to protecting our local ecosystems and in the context of ‘wicked problems’ such as climate change, for all societies and our children;
  • Society, which is to ensure healthy lives, knowledge and the inclusion of women and girls;
  • Partnerships, which means been able to catalyze and develop global solidarity for our national/ local sustainable development

In essence therefore, we must look carefully for the politicians who are aware of the current and future needs of our people, society and environment. Moreover, these politicians must be acutely (keenly) aware of how to integrate economic growth and development, in such a manner, that no one is left behind and that our environment will be available to provide services for continued national development and including other service such as enjoyment. These are the politicians who will be capable of fully understating the global issues that hinder development and will be able to nimbly maneuver them. Most importantly though, let’s judge the track records of continuing politicians on the way they have guided development-economic, environmental and social during their tenures in the past.

The elections and independence celebration can go hand-in-hand, if we focus on the theme for independence. Forging ahead together for continued (sustainable) national development requires politicians that have the ability to drive development toward the sustainable development goals. No more should we be bamboozled by politicians who speak ‘sustainababble’ (it is not a typo). That is to say, the politician who has no clue what sustainable development and sustainability mean and how they fit into national development.

Let us vote for the politicians who are ‘sustainable development smart’, as our future begins now towards a ‘new’ era of national development driven by the SDGs.

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