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BARBADOS - Future Centre

In 1994 Barbados hosted the first UN Global Conference on Sustainable Development for Small Island Developing States. At that time, thousands of people visited a parallel activity to the conference called the Village of Hope. From that village has come the Future Centre, which educates visitors and schoolchildren about the environment. As “An Interpretive Centre for Lightening the Impact on our Environment,” the Future Centre has an organic garden, a medicinal herb garden, solar-driven ovens and ponds. Further information can be found on

The Future Centre Trust, has recently been replaced by the Counterpart Caribbean. It is located in Edgehill, in parish of St Thomas in Barbados. It is a permanent exhibition in Barbados focusing on the sustainability of the country, created a rallying point for those concerned with protection of the environment. The Centre focuses on role models from Barbados and other countries in addition to practical demonstrations on eco-farming, permaculture, composting, alternative energy, gray water reuse, as well as other issues pertaining to the environment and development.

Its creation resulted from the 1994 UN Conference on Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States, hosted by Barbados. During the conference, an NGO forum exhibition, entitled “The Village of Hope”, included 300 displays which depicted “The Horror”, environmental decay, and “The Hope”, environmental protection if special action is taken.The linkage of art, spirit and technology had been one of the key developments at the Village of Hope.

The Future Centre, under the patronage of the Governor General, was established by a group of concerned citizens. Later, the project came under the patronage of the President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). The Future Centre has an interactive exhibition on environmental issues around the many themes of the “Village of Hope” located in an old plantation house. Significant teaching themes include the “Eco-logical Footprint” and Swedish “Natural Step”. Extensive
gardens hold a variety of exhibits, plants and an herb tire garden. Vegetarian dishes served at the restaurant use organic ingredients straight out of the gardens. The Future Centre Trust and other NGOs in Barbados are ac-tively involved in the process of decision-making as well as in multi-sectoral committees which make decisions pertaining to
the environment. The Trust is also involved in looking at alternative
ways to dispose of solid waste other than landfill, such as composting.


Issues Addressed

• Management of wastes (Chapter III of Barbados Programme of Action)
• Energy resources (Chapter VII of BPoA)
• Science and technology (Chapter XIII of BPoA)

Results Achieved

• The Future Centre was acknowledged in Barbados and overseas as an important model for sustainable development awareness building.
• Public awareness about issues concerning the environment increased. Children thoroughly enjoyed the activities provided by the Centre. Other participants included leading businessmen and prominent overseas visitors.
• In 1998, the Future Centre with the Recycling Council of Alberta (Canada) conducted an exploratory project focusing on recycling technology.
• A grant was given to the Dominica Conservation Association.
• The Future Centre in conjunction with other organizations in Barbados continues to conduct free guided hikes twice every Sunday. If a full moon is expected, a third hike is added. Two levels are available for hikers, “energetic” and “stop and stare”. The latter involves frequent stops, for the guides give information about the flora, fauna, history or ge-ology of that particular spot.

Lessons Learned

• The main lesson learned is that a rallying point like the Future Centre is probably the best way of moving systematically and gently to a new way of thinking about the environment.
• Although it has the potential to be financially viable, it requires a systematic flow of resources for the development aspects.
• Because of the impetus from the “Village of Hope”, the Centre was able to draw on much expertise and voluntary help that would not necessarily be available to other SIDS.
• Unsure as to the long-term availability of resources, a restructuring
was recently undertaken, including replacing the original Trust with a link to an overseas NGO. The initial impetus has been lost somewhat during the reorganization.The Centre has been adopted by Counterpart International.

 

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