The rise of China, the nuclear challenge of Iran, the Arab Spring and probably the rise of the Islamic State are all features that have dominated the world scene these recent months but Brexit will remain The Event. From global ramifications to more local and regional context, UK is very much on the agenda of the Mauritian government, from seeking an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice regarding the Chagos and the urgent “ Brexit” meeting at the MOF. The former British Minister of Finance in the hours that follow the result of the referendum called an urgent meeting with the private sector to analyze its impact on our economy from a private sector perspective. I am neither an economist nor an economic strategist but, as a simple layman, I can simply foresee that now we can take advantage of having two distinct trading partners the UK and the EU.
But Sir!!! —This is good initiative and prompt reaction though the house is not burning; how about “Benita” which has already ignited the ecological flame in the southern lagoon? No one including yourself who is walking in the shoes of the next PM called an urgent high-level meeting immediately to prevent an ecological disaster from spreading out. “Benita” is still on our reefs at “le Bouchon” and the spill of dirty fuel has started despite numerous denials from the authorities as usual. We are so good at concluding wrong facts. Air shows by the DRUV, underwater shows all these are nice but what has been the outcome? We acted as a bunch of “amateurs” vis-à-vis the “Benita” issue. We simply don’t have a proactive strategy.
The ecological suicide
Somewhere I read that we want to develop the island as a petroleum hub, this is going to be “ecological suicide”. This dirty stuff in the tanks of “Benita” together with dirty coal are the ecological, economical and social enemies of tomorrow that we all need to fight.  We all, including the government, have to reckon that it is the first time that humans face a global environment threat and countries have started to grabble with its consequences. The spilling of dirty killer Fuel is only a collateral risk that has devastating ecological effect; the main effect is climate change. Unfortunately Politicians do not take this as a major threat as scientists do. If we believe in science then why is it that we don’t believe in the climate science?  Why don’t we believe that global warming is happening and quickly. Why don’t we agree that we are frying the world and boiling the oceans? Today climate change is no longer only an environmental issue; it threatens the very idea of economic growth. Is economic illiteracy deficiency at the heart of not taking it so seriously?  Suffice to tabulate the money (including grants) we have spent for the last 10 years on addressing climate issues will be useful.  Sir, everything is interlinked, the oil spill from “Benita” can destroy your whole tourism sector and needless to say the money that will be needed to (try and) repair damage. I am not factoring in the MTPA budgets over decades to build this industry that can be destroyed in a few hours.  If the ecological language or message does not ring a bell, then probably the economical reasoning I hope can.
Similarly, as climate change is more of an economic issue than an environmental one the plea to the new Minister of Finance is as follows : Please do not look at it just for one split of a second and turn to focus more on economic development at any cost. Politicians have the tendency to more climate denial because the conventional economists in the ministry will argue it is more efficient to concentrate on GDP growth since wealth is more important than climate change. Challenge them to this locked, old school view before it is too late.
Having a few hundreds of millions of rupees will not make much difference if all the coastal villages and a good area of Port Louis are under water or the whole southern part of the lagoon island dipped in a black blanket of heavy dirty black fuel. Do we remember or forget what took place not so long ago in Caudan? Yes we do. Climate change is like that, the odd form of on and again off ecological amnesia, which policy makers suffer more than anyone else. It is not because climate change seems to be so abstract and distant, that we should forget to include it in our plans. It can hit at any time with unknown consequences and the worst thing around it is that we are condemned to uncertainty.
The response to it is to build “Sustainable Mauritius” and this is not only an environmental endeavor. The challenge is not that we need to spend a lot of money and change a lot of policies; it is that we need to think differently, radically differently for those changes to happen. For any of this change to happen we will need to rise to the fore that sees nature as our only asset that we can offer to the future generation.