The key to sustainability lies with people and human institutions.
There have been huge advances over the past twenty years in the development of local Rupununi institutions and leadership. These changes are evident in the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) and its associated institutions (Bina Hill Institute, Makushi Research Unit, North Rupununi Credit Trust and Radio Paiwomak) and in the expansion of local, regional and central government activities in including the strengthening of village councils and improving access to, and the quality of, primary and secondary school education.
Several local, national and international conservation and sustainable development organizations also work in the Rupununi. These include community Wildlife Clubs, Rupununi Learners, Rupununi Weavers, Karanambu Trust, Iwokrama, Conservation International, WWF, Pronatura and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
The effective functioning of Village Councils, the NRDDB, and associated institutions under the guidance of local leadership and young leaders coming out of an improved education system are perhaps the two most critical elements of the sustainable development of the Rupununi.
The key to developing sustainable businesses is to ensure that appropriate and manageable markets exist for the products of the Rupununi. In addition, the basic resources required for businesses – finances and people – must be available. Sustainability requires that environmental considerations are mainstreamed, rather than considered as a necessary evil or issues that can be addressed at a later date. Locally owned businesses are more likely to be sustainable over the long term, particularly if they contribute to social cohesion and the sense of community.
Opportunistic, investment driven, business development is likely to ignore the loss of longer term social, cultural and ecological returns over obtaining short term financial benefits.
Partnerships are Key
Effective partnerships are critical to sustainable development. These partnerships are characterized by good governance and leadership, effective communication, and by partners sharing common principles and goals.
In the Rupununi, partnerships are required among local, regional, and central government; local, national and international civil society organizations; and local, national and international business interests.