Small islands with energy – Manhattan, St. Lucia and Fiji (2013)

In 2013 I strained both the axles of the caravan and the bio-rhythms of the driver! I went backwards and forwards through the time zones as if there was no tomorrow… The schedule looked like this: In January I traveled to Bangkok (6 hours east); in March to Saint Lucia (5 hours west), back to DK for four days and then to California (9 hours west); in May to Fiji (10 hours east); in June to Mexico City (7 hours west) and then two weeks later to Lombok (6 hours east); in August to La Paz (6 hours west); a break for a month, then in October to Tashkent (3 hours east); finally, a north-south trip to Maputo (in the same time zone…) via Addis Ababa. I fear that my carbon footprint far exceeded the norm.

Reviewing efforts to introduce renewable energy and to conserve energy use on small islands was one of the assignments which got me on the road (or into the air…) Although the small islands account for an infinitesimal share of global greenhouse gas emissions, the commitment to replacing fossil fuels with renewables has been an important policy move for islanders who otherwise anticipate bad times as global warming impacts their livelihoods. Funds had been provided by the Danish and Japanese governments for a major scheme to assist the association of small island developing countries (so called SIDS) in their energy sector transformation, with technical assistance from the UN Development Programme and the World Bank.  My job was to assess progress, which involved meetings and discussions with energy sector specialists in New York (just before Christmas at the end of 2012) and at two regional gatherings held in the Caribbean (Saint Lucia) in March and in the Pacific (Fiji) in May. These are a few images from the three trips.

Manhattan is a small island, but with a high energy consumption level!


Outside the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue


Bois Joli on the east coast of St. Lucia


Rodney Bay beach


Fishing nets at Rodney Bay


Village houses at Gros Islet


Signing an agreement for energy sector development in the Pacific


Orchids in the garden of the Sleeping Giant on Viti Levu (Fiji)


Luxuriant vegetation in the gardens


Fijian island of Solevu viewed from the plane leaving Nadi


There’s a postscript to this series of pictures. In March 2017 the Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott died. He was one of two Nobel Prize winners from the tiny island with around 170,000 inhabitants. His poem “After the storm” is one of my favorites:

There are so many islands!/ As many islands as the stars at night/ on that branched tree from which meteors are shaken/ like falling fruit around the schooner Flight./ But things must fall and so it always was,/ on one hand Venus, on the other Mars;/ fall and are one, just as this earth is one/ island in archipelagoes of stars./ My first friend was the sea. Now is my last./ I stop talking now. I work, then I read,/ cotching under a lantern hooked to the mast./ I try to forget what happiness was,/ and when that don’t work, I study the stars./ Sometimes is just me and the soft-scissored foam/ as the deck turn white and the moon open/ a cloud like a door and the light over me/ is a road in white moonlight taking me home./ Shabine sang to you from the depths of the sea.

Having checked the references, I have learnt that the last line refers to a mixed-race woman of the Caribbean. I wasn’t sure what cotching means. Google says relaxing, which fits quite well I guess.[1]

[1] includes the following notes on the life of Derek Walcott, who was awarded the literature prize in 1992: “Born in 1930 in the town of Castries in Saint Lucia, one of the Windward Islands in the Lesser Antilles. The experience of growing up on the isolated volcanic island, an ex-British colony, has had a strong influence on Walcott’s life and work. Both his grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves. His father, a Bohemian water colourist, died when Derek and his twin brother were only a few years old. His mother ran the town’s Methodist school. After studying at St. Mary’s College in his native island and at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Walcott moved in 1953 to Trinidad, where he has worked as theatre and art critic. At the age of 18, he made his debut with 25 Poems, but his breakthrough came with the collection of poems, In a Green Night (1962). In 1959, he founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, which produced many of his early plays. Walcott has been an assiduous traveller to other countries but has always, not least in his efforts to create an indigenous drama, felt himself deeply-rooted in Caribbean society with its cultural fusion of African, Asiatic and European elements. For many years, he has divided his time between Trinidad, where he has his home as a writer, and Boston University, where he teaches literature and creative writing.”

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