Environment at the heart of our recovery – P&R president
GUERNSEY’S natural environment has been put at the heart of plans to reboot the virus-ravaged economy, with the island’s senior politician vowing to make the recovery green.
The idea of so-called ‘green strings’ is being investigated, so that businesses which get recovery strategy cash will have to show environmental objectives.
In his speech to the States, Policy & Resources president Gavin St Pier frequently used the word ‘opportunity’ to describe the moment and chance to re-shape Guernsey.
In particular, the pandemic was seen as a possible springboard to propel the island into a greener future.
‘This is our opportunity to ensure that we build a well-being economy, and do not focus only on economic well-being, critical as that is.
‘As we start to shape the island’s recovery post-Covid, it is important to recognise the role that our natural and built heritage plays in underpinning the financial security of the island and the revive and thrive ethos of the recovery strategy.
‘The connection between nature and our health and well-being was brought into sharp focus during lockdown; whether it was the feeling individuals got listening to the birds or during a walk along our flower-lined cliff paths.’
During lockdown, Guernsey’s nature showed its resilience when traffic levels dropped by 60% and air pollution fell substantially.
Deputy St Pier read out data from the 2019 island habitat survey which showed that our natural heritage is being degraded by human pressures and climate change.
He vowed to put the environment at the centre of the recovery strategy, instead of marginalising it or just applying lip service.
‘How we choose to protect and build the resilience of our natural environment over the coming years will demonstrate whether we have truly learned from the Covid-19 experience and gone beyond simply returning to the pre-virus status quo.
‘As I said at the IoD annual conference in October last year, if we want Guernsey to thrive as a centre for green finance our whole system, our whole culture and practice needs to be consistent and needs to be aligned if we are to be credible.
‘We need to “walk-the-walk” as well as “talk-the-talk”.’
Another key aspect of the strategy is 5G technology, with an overhaul of the island’s telecoms strategy and an aim to be a ‘world leader’ on internet connectivity in homes and businesses.
Summing up, Deputy St Pier threw down the gauntlet to his political colleagues, asking them to support the change in ambitions and capture the zeitgeist of pride and confidence in the island.
‘This is the States’ opportunity to sharpen the focus of our recovery strategy.
‘To agree to prioritise our recovery work over all other work – to focus single-mindedly on what supports recovery.
‘Our opportunity to work differently – across the States and with our community.
‘Our opportunity to rethink what we want Guernsey to be – reflecting the views of our community, rethinking how our economy and environment and our community are inter-dependent.’