We started at a local school where we had a presentation on various civil society organisations.
We also heard about some of the dissatisfaction with the union of Tobago with Trinidad. Before 1898 Tobago was a separate colony. Many people feel that the central Government in Port of Spain has too much power - for example in allowing exploratory drilling by Petro Canada with no consultation with anyone here and disrupting the livelihoods of many local fishermen.
Matthew Limrick : Media Star
Well we have all had lots of excitement over the MPs expenses scandal back in the UK. So interesting to be in a country where expenses and other "perks" are very much part and parcel of the Parliamentary life. Wednesday's main Paper had a front page photo of the Prime Minister being presented with a gold hand crafted Swiss watch specially made for him for CHOGM. The paper reported lovingly that it's worth thousands of dollars. I am afraid there is a culture here where such gifts and other arrangements are very much part of the culture. Of course I may be wrong and he intends to hand this over to the State, as would happen in the UK ? Or perhaps give it to a cancer charity for a fundraising auction?
Parliamentarians apparently have fingers in lots of lucrative pies , especially property. Planning laws are elastic and the Government is closely involved in running Hotels etc. Is it any surprise that in a gas and oil rich nation some 40% of people do not have running water in their homes?
There is great controversy here over plans for building an aluminium smelter. The wishes of the local communities have been ignored, even though the risk of cancer will increase for people who live close to it. And a large amount of beautiful forest will be sacrificed. If we are going to tackle climate change then all countries need to do their bit. And that includes Trinidad and Tobago. Amazing that in a country with so much sun I have seen not a single solar panel. Certainly not on Government buildings - not even newly erected ones.
The wealth that oil brought has certainly enriched some , just not the people. So perhaps we should keep our own problems over expenses in proportion.
Back to the UK- but sticking with climate change: Yesterday BTCV (the country's biggest conservation volunteer body led by the magnificent climate campaigner Tom Flood: ACEVO member naturally) launched its biggest-ever climate change campaign. BTCV believes that actions speak louder than words. So while the world talks at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen in December, BTCV and thousands of UK citizens will take practical action to tackle climate change. (click on this link for the website)
During December, BTCV's Carbon Army will be taking frontline action on climate change.
Shadow Minister, Nick Herbert, and BTCV supporter, Charlie Dimmock, will join scores of volunteers who will be planting a kitchen garden at Waterlow Park, London. Kicking off their campaign with a local food growing project to reduce the carbon impact of food miles.
And I am doing my bit in my own back garden at Clinks. We can all grow more food ourselves. My tomatoes in particular were a marvel ! Make up for my own carbon miles!! And tom will no doubt help me plant a forest to atone for my travel!
But now I must stop. It's off to experience the brilliance of the natural habitat at Bucco Reef!
Steel band player during lunch!